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USA Today reports that Starbucks plans to open its first dedicated juice bar today, dubbed Evolution Fresh, in Bellevue, Washington.

According to the story, “The grand opening comes four months after Starbucks purchased the little-known Evolution Fresh brand, and two days before the company's annual meeting, where CEO Howard Schultz will prophetically point to Evolution Fresh as an early glimpse of the company's future beyond the coffee bean.

“For Starbucks, this is the beginning of a carefully crafted path for growth beyond java. Starbucks has one eye squarely on the $50 billion world of health and wellness, where it believes the premium juices and vegan and veggie dishes that the new chain will sell could attract a different type of well-to-do consumer than those who patronize its gourmet coffee shops. At the same time, Starbucks is hankering to run with behemoths such as Kraft and PepsiCo in the near $1 trillion world of consumer packaged goods.”

Jeff Hansberry, the former Procter & Gamble executive and current president of Starbucks Channel Development, says that the company is counting on the fact that “some 66% of Americans say they factor in the ‘healthfulness’ of a product before they buy it.”

The success of the store will also depend to what extent customers factor in price before making a purchase. USA Today reports that the Apple Store-like facility is fairly pricey: “A full-size juice and salad (or sandwich) could set you back the better part of $20. Figure $7.99 for a 16-ounce hand-crafted juice. Another $8.25 for a salad — and $2.50 more if you want chicken or steak on it. Hot or cold sandwich ‘bowls’ fetch $8.75. And a wrap — wrapped in collard greens, not pita — will set you back $7.50.”
KC's View:
Seems a little steep to me. I wouldn’t bet against Starbucks, but given a choice, I think I’d probably opt for the somewhat more modestly priced Jamba Juice.