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Oct 16, 2018

Starbucks steering clear of cannabis, CEO says

Starbucks CEO on whether he sees opportunity in cannabis

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Starbucks Corp. is currently not making any plans around cannabis, according to the company’s chief executive officer.  

“That’s not anything we’re considering or pursuing – I just don’t feel it’s accretive to our brand and kind of what our brand stands for,” Kevin Johnson told BNN Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman Tuesday, on the sidelines of the Fortune Global Forum in Toronto.

“We’ll monitor and watch what happens in the industry as we always do,” he added.

Johnson’s comments come on the eve of recreational cannabis legalization in Canada, and amid speculation that more companies may be looking for opportunities in the marijuana sector. Sources told BNN Bloomberg that Coca-Cola Co. is in talks with Aurora Cannabis Inc. to develop pot-infused beverages, while Molson Coors Brewing Co. announced a joint venture with Hexo Corp. in August. 

Second Cup Coffee Co. is looking to get a toehold into the recreational cannabis market, with the Canadian company partnering with marijuana clinic operator National Access Cannabis earlier this year to potentially transition some of its stores into cannabis shops.

Instead of looking for opportunities in the cannabis space, Johnson said Starbucks is more focused on developing its custom hand-crafted coffee and tea beverages. The company, which operates in 78 countries, has expanded its product line in recent years to include food and has even experimented with alcoholic beverages at some locations.

And as concerns have surfaced among Canadian employers around the consumption of alcohol or cannabis by their employees, Johnson said that isn’t an issue at his company.

“Our Starbucks partners, they use good judgement,” he said. “We hire the kind of people that care about making a great connection with their customers – they care about creating that elevated Starbucks experience.”

Cannabis Canada is BNN Bloomberg’s in-depth series exploring the stunning formation of the entirely new – and controversial – Canadian recreational marijuana industry. Read more from the special series here and subscribe to our Cannabis Canada newsletter to have the latest marijuana news delivered directly to your inbox every day