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Trend Watch: Starbucks Food Menu to Focus on Healthful, Natural Ingredients

Reuters reports that the Seattle-based coffee company later this month will start promoting baked goods without high-fructose corn syrup, a widely used and inexpensive sweetener believed to be a major contributor to obesity in this country. Out, too, will be artificial flavors and dyes. In will be new low-calorie salads and breakfast sandwiches made with egg whites.

The ingredient changes, which also include removing preservatives where possible, will affect about 90 percent of the baked goods Starbucks sells, according to the report. It’s all part of the coffee chain's ongoing efforts to appeal to increasingly health-conscious consumers as the recession has damped spending on little luxuries like lattes. Food prices reportedly will not rise as a result of the changes being made.

Food accounted for 17 percent of sales at company-operated Starbucks cafes in its fiscal year ended September 2008, up from 15 percent in fiscal 2006.

In 2007, Starbucks removed artificial trans fat from its food, changed its default milk used in beverages like lattes to 2 percent from whole milk and limited to 500 the number of calories in its food items. It also uses hormone-free milk.

Reworked baked goods that will debut at month-end include an 11-ingredient Banana Walnut Bread, a reduced fat Very Berry Coffee Cake that is 20 percent fruit, and an organic blueberry bar that was previously available only in selected markets.

More indulgent treats include reformulated oatmeal cookies as well as double chocolate cookies and brownies.

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