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Starbucks expands into Colombia

Building on the company’s already well-established connections in Latin America and 42-year history with Colombian coffee producers, the international coffee giant Starbucks has announced that it will be opening up its first outlet in Colombia at some point during the first half of 2014.

According to an official release by the firm, the coffee shop to be situated in Bogota will serve up and sell nothing but pure drip, espresso and packaged Colombian coffee, which will all be roasted in the country itself.

Carlos Piedrahita, chief executive officer of Grupo Nutresa, one of Starbucks’ business partners involved in the venture – said: “We have great pride in being the first Latin American market where Starbucks commits to serving only locally sourced and roasted Colombian coffee.”

There are also plans afoot to open more stores in other major Colombian cities over the next five years or so, with Starbucks currently running more than 650 outlets across 12 markets in Latin America.

Having met with the president of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the coffee firm Howard Schultz said: “It is an honor for us to bring the Starbucks experience and Colombia’s finest coffee to this important and fast-growing market, while collaborating with Colombia and the United States Agency for International Development to continue empowering local coffee growers and sharing the value, heritage and tradition of its coffee with the world.”

He also referred to the chain’s history with the country as “long and proud”. Two of the firm’s longest-standing business partners in Latin America – Alsea and Grupo Nutresa – will be operating the new Colombian offering via a joint venture.

Alsea, the coffee giant’s head licensed partner in the region for more than a decade, currently runs more than 500 outlets across other countries in the region. A subsidiary arm of Grupo Nutresa called Colcafe is in fact the leading food company in Colombia.

Talking about the collaboration between the two companies, Alsea chief executive officer Fabian Gosselin commented: “We are very excited to work alongside such a prestigious Colombian company as Grupo Nutresa, to introduce the Starbucks experience in Colombia,” adding that he has every faith in their “aggressive and profitable development plan”.

In other good news for the coffee trading industry for the Central American territory, the USAID will be growing its support programme for Colombian coffee farmers, with a three-year $3 million (£1.9 million) public-private partnership with the Starbucks Farmer Support Center established in Manizales, Colombia in 2012.

The idea is that the venture – which, it is hoped, will aid as many as 25,000 farmers across the country – will help to increase Colombian coffee yields, improve economic opportunities for growers, provide technical and financial support for farmers and generally build on sustainable practice.

This follows news at the end of last year that Starbucks opened its first ever Support Center based in Asia, in Pu’er, China.

John Culver, president of Starbucks in China and Asia Pacific, commented: “The opening of the Starbucks China Farmer Support Center [was] a significant milestone in Starbucks’ continued investments in China and the Starbucks Yunnan Coffee Project.”

“We believe Yunnan will play an important strategic role in our long-term supply of premium arabica coffee,” he added.