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Starbucks Brewing A Major Push Onto Grocery Shelves

Starbucks' Via instant coffee will hit the shelves in tens of thousands of supermarkets, mass merchandisers and other outlets in coming weeks, Kevin Helliker reports, joining restaurant brands such as California Pizza Kitchen and P.F. Chang's China Bistro in the presumed rush to retail riches.

"It's an intriguing question how far Starbucks the coffee shop can morph into Starbucks the brand," says William Blair & Co. analyst Sharon Zackfia, who points out that in always swinging for the fences, founder/CEO Howard Schultz sometimes strikes out.

For his part, Schultz says that creating a "very significant consumer packaged goods" business is a "centerpiece" of the company's growth strategy. Without elaborating on specifics, he suggested that a "pipeline" of new products would follow the Via model in the next 12 to 18 months. He also hints that the company's popular loyalty card will figure in the marketing for Starbucks grocery products.



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