Starbucks’ CEO Unsure Of Future Keurig Relationship

Is the relationship between coffee giants Starbucks and Keurig nearing an end?

Although no official announcement has been made, Starbucks chairman and CEO, Howard Schultz, said sales of Starbucks-branded K-Cups are strong and the company remains committed to the product line.

“I want to assure retailers and the millions of customers who demand Starbucks branded coffees for their Keurig brewers… that we are in the K-Cup business to stay,” he said during a recent company investor conference call. “However, at this moment, the only matter that remains unresolved is whether we will be doing so in conjunction with Keurig or on our own.”

Schultz claimed that many Starbucks K-Cups consumers have told his company that they purchased a Keurig brewer only after Starbucks coffee was made available on the platform.

Through a spokesperson, Keurig declined comment.

Schultz’s statements come after Keurig was purchased by JAB Holding Company, which owns several coffee-related companies including specialty coffee retailers Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Caribou Coffee.

During the conference call, Starbucks officials reported strong growth in sales of its K-Cups during the fourth quarter. Kevin Johnson, company president and COO, reported that Starbucks K-Cups were up 20% in dollar sales, and its new hot cocoa assortment in December was Starbucks’ third fastest moving SKU in its K-Cup portfolio.