Starbucks to enter coffee-loving Vietnam

AFP and AP, HANOI and NEW YORK

Fri, Jan 04, 2013 - Page 15

Starbucks Corp said yesterday it would open its first store next month in Vietnam, seeking a foothold in the coffee-loving country as part of efforts to expand in Asia.

The communist country’s first Starbucks cafe will be in southern Ho Chi Minh City, the US beverage giant said in a joint statement with its local partner, Hong Kong’s Maxim Group.

“Vietnam is one of the most dynamic and exciting markets in the world and we are proud to add Vietnam as the 12th market across the China and Asia-Pacific region,” Starbucks China and Asia Pacific president John Culver said.

Starbucks has been targeting growth outside of the stagnant US market, opening thousands of stores in China and across the Asia-Pacific region over the past few years.

In October, it opened its first stores in India, in partnership with domestic giant Tata Global Beverages.

Unlike tea-drinking India, Vietnam — the world’s second-largest coffee producer — already has a strong local coffee culture with dozens of popular local chains and small coffee shops on nearly every street corner.

“We know coffee is a national pride for many Vietnamese and as such, we look forward to contributing and growing Vietnam’s already vibrant coffee industry,” Culver said in the statement.

Starbucks already purchases “notable” amounts of high-quality arabica coffee from Vietnam and is committed to buying more over the long term, according to the statement.

Culver said last month that Starbucks will have almost 4,000 stores in the Asia-Pacific region by the end of this year, including 1,000 in China.

Separately, Starbucks started rolling out a US$1 reusable plastic cup at its cafes from yesterday.

The Seattle-based coffee chain already gives customers a dime discount each time they bring in reusable cups for refills. Now it is hoping the new cups — which bear its logo and resemble its white paper cups — will increase the habit.

The cups were tested in 600 stores in the Pacific Northwest over the past few months and will be rolled out nationwide and in Canada.

In 2008, teh company had said it wanted to serve 25 percent of all drinks in reusable cups by 2015. That goal has since been reduced to 5 percent.