Starbucks will add oat milk to its menu at all locations nationwide in Spring 2021. The move follows a successful limited launch of oat milk in January 2020 at approximately 1,300 locations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. In August, Starbucks also added oat milk to its menus across Canada. The dairy-free milk additions aim to support the company’s global sustainability commitments to be resource- and planet-positive by 2030.
Dairy’s environmental footprint
A 2020 audit of Starbucks conducted by sustainability consultant Quantis and the World Wildlife Fund found that dairy is responsible for the largest portion of the chain’s carbon footprint, driving 21 percent of the 15.6 million metric tons of greenhouse gases emitted in 2018 by the more than 31,000 Starbucks outlets worldwide. “Part of our aspiration to become resource-positive includes migrating toward a more environmentally friendly menu. Therefore, expanding plant-based alternatives will be a big part of the solution,” Starbucks Chief Sustainability Officer Michael Kobori told VegNews. “The consumer demand curve is already shifting, and it’s fortunate that customers’ concern over the environment is showing up as increased demand for plant based beverages and foods—it has inspired plant-based menu innovation at Starbucks and will continue to drive progress toward achieving our goal.”
Today, Starbucks committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and waste production by 50 percent by 2030 by engaging in “Planet Positive Initiatives,” such as introducing plant-based options, expanding its use of renewable energy such as solar and wind, and expanding its investment to $100 million in the Global Farmer Fund, which allows coffee growers to strengthen their sustainability efforts. “Our Planet Positive initiatives have a central role in our long-term business strategy, and directly address what our customers are asking for,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said. “We are moving toward a more circular economy, and we are doing so in a very intentional, transparent, and accountable way.”
Plant-based at Starbucks
With the addition of oat milk this spring, Starbucks will offer a variety of dairy alternatives on its menu. The chain’s food menu is evolving, as well. In June, Starbucks added a vegetarian Impossible Breakfast Sandwich (which cannot be ordered vegan) to the majority of its US locations—representing the first time it has added plant-based meat to its US menu. In October, the chain began testing a fully vegan breakfast sandwich—made with mung bean-based egg, a plant-based sausage patty, dairy-free cheese, and served on an English muffin—at one location in Issaquah, WA.