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Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX ) announced that its Via instant-coffee offering has been a huge hit with consumers, raking in $100 million in sales in its first 10 months of existence. But if Starbucks is winning ... who's losing?
At first, the coffee giant's plan to release an instant java that might dilute its brand (and cannibalize its drink sales) seemed strange. But now, Starbucks is laughing all the way to the bank. The company said it has already grabbed 30% of the market share in the single-serve/pod coffee space, a sector that represents $330 million in sales, according to A.C. Nielsen. Starbucks is now increasing Via distribution in major consumer-facing retailers such as Costco (Nasdaq: COST ) , Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) , and CVS (NYSE: CVS ) .
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR ) is another contender in this space; its Keurig single-serve coffee makers use "pods" to brew up just one cup of coffee. In contrast, Via comes in a packet that java junkies add to hot water. Both are convenient options for folks at the office or at home, but since Via doesn't require a special coffeemaker, it may have the advantage in portability.
In its press announcement, Starbucks intriguingly noted that nearly 40% of the folks it surveyed said they use Via in addition to other beverages. In short, Via's not actually replacing the Starbucks drinks they already buy, which should help calm fears that the instant packets would cannibalize sales at Starbucks' stores.
All in all, Via's another win for Starbucks on the heels of its latest decent quarter, even as Green Mountain reported a green quarter, too. Can these two coffee companies both win with single-serve coffee options? Do other companies with instant coffee brands stand to lose more, like J.M. Smucker's (NYSE: SJM ) Folgers or Kraft's (NYSE: KFT ) Maxwell House? Brew up your best guesses in the comment box below.
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