NEW YORK - Starbucks is eyeing China as its biggest market outside of North America, reports the Wall Street Journal.
In an interview with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, the Seattle-based coffeehouse chain believes Asia "clearly represents the most significant growth opportunity on a go-forward basis...Over time there will be thousands of [Starbucks] stores in China."
The Journal writes that Starbucks opened its first store in Beijing in 1999. The company has 376 stores on the China mainland, compared with 878 in Japan, a market it entered in 1996.
"Cracking the code in China for any company is not an easy task ï¿½" there will be a number of winners and lots of losers of people who go there and rush to judgment and don't succeed," Schultz told the Journal. "The thing I am most interested in when I go to China is whether or not local Chinese are buying Starbucks coffee and sitting in our stores."
Meanwhile, Seattle's Best Coffee, a subsidiary of Starbucks, announced the availability of its new line of canned Iced Lattes in more than 10,000 major grocery, convenience and other retail stores throughout Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
Through the North American Coffee Partnership, a joint venture between Starbucks Corporation and Pepsi-Cola North America Beverages, the new on-the-go coffees extend the reach of the Seattle's Best Coffee brand into the ready-to-drink category.
The beverages are available in Iced Latte, Iced Vanilla Latte and Iced Mocha flavors and have a suggested retail price of $1.49 for a single can and $4.99 for a four-pack.