Competition in premium coffee just got tougher. Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s
Corp. launched a new premium roast coffee this month that is about $0.30 less
than Starbucks charges for its small-sized coffee. The stronger, richer blend
of coffee comes in a new paper-covered Styrofoam cup with a black lid to reinforce
its premium name.
McDonald’s push for a better brew is part of its
effort to boost breakfast sales and pull customers away from rivals like
Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. And it’s a big market to pull
from. Americans spent $34.5 billion on coffee in 2005, up 8.7 percent from
2004, according to industry reports.
Even though some customers might not want to pay $0.20
more for their 12-ounce coffee, McDonald’s is convinced that a
heartier coffee combined with the convenience of its 13,000 drive-throughs
will help to lure more of the “just-coffee” crowd.
The fast-food chain also is hoping to capitalize on
increasing on-premise coffee consumption. According
to the National Coffee Association, 39 percent of coffee drinkers consumed
their brew outside the home in 2005, compared with 32 percent in 2001. The
association reported that 16 percent of U.S. coffee drinkers bought their
daily brew at a restaurant compared with 11 percent who said they bought
their coffee at a Starbucks-style coffee shop. That’s a change from
2004, when 13 percent said they bought their coffee at a coffee shop, while
11 percent said they purchased it at a restaurant.
While McDonald’s also is testing specialty
coffees such as lattes and espressos at 50 of its restaurants, Starbucks is
more than doubling the number of stores — roughly 600 stores —
that sell hot breakfast sandwiches this year. Whether or not premium coffee
roasts will help increase food sales is yet to be determined, but coffee
sales are sure to heat up.
Attendees at the International Cane Spirits Festival
in March could follow the Rum Trail through the historic cobblestone
streets of Ybor City in Tampa, Fla., sipping a variety of cane spirits.
Sugar cane spirits from around the globe came together for a Rum Fest
during the event, which gave participants the chance to taste products and
meet distillers and importers.
Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, chairman of the American Red
Cross, visited The Gambrinus Co., San Antonio, Texas, to thank the brewer
and importer for its contributions to the relief efforts following the
hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to its $100,000 donation to
the Red Cross, the Gambrinus team donated $200,000 to other charitable
organizations in affected communities.
Smirnoff kicked off a nationwide search this month for
the position of Smirnoff Cocktail Consultant, “the definitive expert
on all things vodka drinks-related.” The newly hired Cocktail
Consultant will spend his or her time researching cocktail culture across
the country and providing twice yearly Smirnoff Cocktail Trend Reports. The
lucky individual will receive a salary and expense budget of $100,000 to
identify the latest in drinks for a one-year term.
Sending love overseas
Jones Soda, Seattle,
partnered with Operation AC, a non-profit organization that supports
service men and women overseas, to donate 10,000 Valentine Jones packs to
troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq. The limited-edition packs
contained two bottles of Love Potion #6, a specially designed flavor that
“captures the taste of love;” Love Potion #6 Lip Balm; a CD
sampler of songs by Sony BMG recording artists and a Jones Love Coupon
Book, which includes a coupon for two free bottles of personalized soda
Coors Light, the primary sponsor of the No. 40 car,
driven by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates rookie David Stremme, is
creating Trackside Chats in conjunction with four races throughout the
season. It gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at NASCAR through Stremme.
The driver will comment on what it’s like to race in the Nextel Cup
series and his experiences on and off the track. The first streaming audio
file was available this month in conjunction with the Golden Corral 500 at
the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Carrie & Co., Napa, Calif., released a line of
haute couture shoe designs for its DrinkWear coaster line. In time for
spring, Carrie Olsen-Garrard, product designer, has produced collections
ranging from golf, tennis, pink dress shoes, flip flops and scuba flippers.
Dress and tennis shoes feature their own purse tote, and golf sets have a
matching golf club caddy. Each coaster in a set varies in color,
functioning as a clever way to distinguish one glass from the next. All
sets range in price from $14.95 to $25.