CEO Howard Schultz of Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks visited Colombia on Monday to promote Starbucks’ new wave of stores in the coffee-producing country.
As Colombia’s coffee farmers this year bemoaned their economic conditions, blocked roads, and protested Colombia’s economic policy, Starbucks assured that the company’s move to enter Colombia’s market would bring benefit, reported Colombian financial magazine Dinero.
“We wanted to honor and respect the long history that Colombian coffee has, and the relationship that we have established with coffee growers for a good awhile now,” Schultz told reporters in Bogota.
Colombia has a Starbucks-like brand already. Juan Valdez stores are sprinkled throughout Colombia’s major cities, offering high quality coffee drinks like espresso and lattes in a setting reminiscent of Starbucks’ comfy, free-wifi-access cafes.
During a time when Colombia’s neoliberal economic policies have come under attack by various groups around the country, some Colombians have wondered how the global coffee player will re-shape a market where Colombia already has its favorite national brand.
But Schultz assured that there is room in the market for more competition, saying, “Juan Valdez has a strong history, but we also think that there is more room in the market than just Juan Valdez.”
“Our focus is to promote Colombian coffee. Juan Valdez is separate, and we respect them, but our idea is to promote the national product,” added Schultz in an interview with Dinero.
Starbucks, says Schultz, is currently the largest exporter of Colombia’s high-quality arabica beans in the Andean country. The global coffee brand said that Colombia was one of its top 3 suppliers for the U.S. market.
During his visit, the CEO would not reveal where and how many cafes would open in Colombia. Our locations, he said, are strategic.
- Interview with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (Dinero)
- Interview with Starbucks spokesperson Alisha Damodaran (Starbucks)