Starbucks Eliminates Dairy-Free Milk Surcharge at 1,000 Locations

Starbucks Eliminates Dairy-Free Milk Surcharge at 1,000 Locations

Starbucks just announced that it will finally be removing the surcharge for its vegan milk substitutes at locations across the UK starting on January 5. The decision closely follows the press release hoax made by Switch4Good that told the media everywhere that the company decided to move the surcharge to dairy-based milk instead. Now the company is eliminating the plant-based milk charge from 1,020 locations, making its plant-based milk options more accessible to customers in the UK.

The company currently offers five dairy-free milk options including oatmeal, soy, coconut, almond, and Starbucks’ exclusive original nut blend: plant-based milk containing light rice, cashew and hazelnut milk with vitamins B12, B2, D2. and E. Although only in the UK, the decision to remove the vegan milk surcharge is a monumental move for the company. After years of requests and calls to action, Starbucks will finally offer plant-based beverages at no additional cost.

“With personalization at the core of Starbucks, this latest menu change will provide greater customization options and make it even easier for customers to choose any dairy or milk alternative they prefer, year-round,” the company said in a Press release.

Along with its decision to remove the surcharge, Starbucks will increase its vegan winter menu across the UK. The company announced that it will add three coffees with fresh oat milk, including Honey & Hazelnut (Not Vegan), Dark Cacoa & Orange and Strawberry & Vanilla. The new lattes will combine Oatly’s oat milk and Starbucks exclusive Blonde Roast Expresso. The new selection will be featured on the company’s “Oat Platform”, aimed at promoting and expanding the oat milk beverage section.

“The platform will see the addition of new alternative dairy beverages for future seasons as part of our ongoing work to expand our plant-based menu,” Starbucks said in a statement.

While Starbucks hasn’t cleared up any direct inspiration, the company’s announcement comes shortly after the Switch4Good campaign that mentioned the brand’s plant surcharge. The campaign, created by Switch4Good of former Olympian Dotsie Bausch and activist duo The Yes Men, set out to hold Starbucks accountable for its troublesome surcharge. The bogus press release contained an explanation that Starbuck would remove the surcharge to stop contributing to dietary racism, as a high percentage of Black, Indigenous and Black Communities (BIPOC) cannot consume lactose.

Recently, various organizations and activists have put diet at the forefront of conversations about racism, institutional discrimination, and nutritional deficits. For years, Starbucks has felt pressure from activists who claim that the premium is a barrier to sustainable and nutritional progress.

Recently, documentary filmmakers Keegan Kuhn and John Lewis released their new film, They are trying to kill us, which explored the deep connection between diet and racial discrimination. The film examines how racism manipulates the food industries in the United States to create nutritional failure in communities of color. With the help of Billie Eilish and Chris Paul, the documentary puts pressure on food industries and businesses to tackle discrimination across the country.

“The movie opened my eyes to the biggest underlying problem and disparities in the food system, and most people don’t realize it’s been going on for decades,” Paul said. “The conversations and dialogue are both stimulating and educational in many areas.”

Starbucks’ decision to change the milk surcharge also coincides with the growing demand for dairy-free milk options. The company has seen a rebound in sales in recent years, minimizing the need for a marginal surcharge as the dairy-free milk industry grows, reaching price parity with the dairy-based milk market. The plant-based dairy industry is projected to reach $ 32 billion by 2031, according to Fact.MR. Starbucks is likely to benefit from making its plant-based milk options more accessible to a rapidly growing vegan and health-conscious consumer base.

Beyond the plant milk selection, Starbucks is also working on its vegan food selection. The company has spent the last few years developing a variety of plant-based food options, and will now begin its expansion in the UK. The company will launch the Tu’NAH Sandwich, a vegan tuna sandwich made with vegetable tuna from The Vegetarian Butcher, complete with red onion, arugula, cucumber and vegan mayo. For baked goods, Starbucks also announced three plant-based treats, including Carrot Cake, Chocolate Caramel Muffin, and Nut Caramel Brownie.

The new winter menu will accompany recent menu developments such as the company’s signature vegan whipped cream and sandwiches made with Beyond Meat. For now, the company has only revealed minimal vegan changes in the US, however the company’s new measures provide consumers with reason to anticipate more plant-based Starbucks around the world.

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