Starbucks Is Coming To Colombia; Competition's Not Worried
Executives for the country's only major coffee chain says the multinational company's planned entry into their market should help entice more Colombians to try coffee drinks.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
Starting in 2014, Colombia, one of the biggest coffee exporters in the world, will become home to stores bearing a certain familiar green-and-white sign: Last week Starbucks began scouting for locations in the capital of Bogota as part of its plan to open 50 outlets in the country in the next few years. Upon learning the news, executives at the parent company of Juan Valdez Café -- named after the iconic fictional coffee grower and currently the only major coffee shop chain in the country -- said that they look forward to "a challenge that will make us better."
What's the Big Idea?
Contrary to what some might think, Colombians aren't huge coffee drinkers, and it's only been in the last few years that a rising middle class has been able to afford Juan Valdez's offerings. The company already has a strong connection with local coffee growers, who receive benefits from coffee sales. Starbucks has pledged that it too will get all its coffee from local sources, and CEO Howard Schultz says it won't try to undercut its competitors' prices. Still, Juan Valdez customers like Steffany Serebrenik don't see themselves switching anytime soon: "[W]e don’t support Starbucks. It’s just another multinational coming in."