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Starbucks drops plant-based surcharge in the UK

Starbucks stores in the UK will no longer charge extra for almond, coconut, soy, oat or its Starbucks Original Nut blend non-dairy products

Starbucks now offers five dairy alternative products at its UK stores | Photo credit: Starbucks Coffee Company

Starbucks will no longer charge £0.40 ($0.54) for dairy alternatives in beverages across all its 1,020 UK stores. The removal of the charge brings Starbucks in line with UK market leader Costa Coffee, which removed its plant-based surcharge in 2019. Food-to-go and coffee chain Pret A Manged followed suit in 2020 by ditching its own £0.40 surcharge.
Caffè Nero, which operates around 650 stores in the UK, still charges £0.45 for oat and coconut dairy alternatives, although soy is free.
Plant-based dairy alternatives have gained significant traction across the UK and developed coffee shop markets around the world as consumers opt for healthier menu items and become increasingly environmentally conscious.
In a press release, Starbucks said the move would also help the company’s wider ambition to become a resource positive company by 2030.
World Coffee Portal research shows oat is now the UK’s preferred dairy alternative in UK coffee shops, overtaking the previous favourite, coconut. Underlining the trend, in late 2021 Starbucks launched its new ‘oat latte platform’, a range of coffee beverages intended to optimise the flavour of oat dairy alternatives.
However, despite the sustained rise of dairy alternatives in the UK, dairy milk remains the firm favourite among UK consumers surveyed. Sixty percent indicated they had tried semi-skimmed milk in a coffee shop over the last 12 months, with 33% opting for whole milk and 27% trying skimmed milk.

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