Starbucks to add more plant-based food in latest green push; Beyond Meat shares jump

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp SBUX.O aims to add more plant-based food and drinks to its menu as part of the company's latest plan to become more environmentally friendly, Chief Executive Kevin Johnson said on Tuesday, prompting a surge in shares of Beyond Meat Inc BYND.O.

Over the past year, with the rise of companies including Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, “plant-based” has become a food industry buzzword and several major brands and restaurants have raced to offer such products. The plant-based meat substitute category is expected to be worth $140 billion in the next decade, according to Barclays.

Starbucks - which sells sausage breakfast-sandwiches, chicken wraps and smoked salmon bagels with cream cheese - did not say by when it would start offering plant-based items. A spokeswoman told Reuters the company is exploring meat alternatives for its breakfast menu, but declined comment on potential suppliers.

Shares in Beyond Meat, which makes pea-based sausages, chicken and burgers, rose as much 17.1% to $127.80.

Starbucks also said it aims to eventually shift to reusable packaging from single-use cups and plastic, and invest in better waste-management.

For now, the world’s largest coffee chain has laid out targets for 2030 including halving landfill waste from stores, and carbon emissions from its direct operations and supply chain. The targets were informed by research from the World Wildlife Fund and sustainability consultant Quantis, Starbucks said.

Starbucks, which uses about 6 billion cups a year at its more than 30,000 outlets, has failed in the past to meet some of its own environmental goals including making 25% of its cups reusable by 2015. The target was revised to serving 5% of its beverages in personal tumblers by 2015, which Starbucks also missed.

The Seattle-based company’s abundant use of containers, lids and straws has been criticized by consumers as well as activist groups for decades. To be sure, some of its goals have been met, such as a 2008 plan to buy enough renewable energy certificates to power all of its company-operated stores by 2015.

Reporting by Richa Naidu and Hilary Russ; editing by Diane Craft and Tom Brown