TIME China

China Food Scandal Hits Starbucks

McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut have already taken action over claims that a food supplier used expired meat

Starbucks is the latest global chain to be pulled into a recent food scandal in China, involving Shanghai Husi Food Co.

The food-processing company came under fire after a TV report showed factory staff using expired meat, as well as meat that fell on the floor, in food products that had been supplied to chains including, McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut.

In a statement on Weibo — the Chinese version of Twitter — Starbucks said that while it had no direct business ties with Husi, the chicken used for its chicken apple-sauce panini came from a supplier that purchased its poultry from Shanghai Husi. The sandwich had been on sale in 13 different provinces and major cities, but the coffee chain added that it has since been pulled from cafés.

The TV report on Shanghai Husi showed a factory-quality manager telling investigators, “Our company policy allows us to add expired raw materials to produce beef patties.” The report also found that processed chicken parts had been expired for nearly half a month.

McDonald’s and Yum! Brands Inc., the parent company of KFC and Pizza Hut, both issued apologies on Monday to Chinese customers.

The parent company of Husi, U.S.-based OSI Group, also apologized for the scandal and said it was cooperating with authorities. Shanghai food regulators shut down the Husi factory on Sunday, pending an investigation into the allegations.

Food safety is a hot-button issue in China, where scandals over toxicity and hygiene are commonplace.

TIME Coffee

Starbucks Unveils First Location in Colombia

Inside A Starbucks Store And The "Returning Moms" Program Ahead Of International Women's Day
Bloomberg/Getty Images

And will open 50 more within the next 5 years

Starbucks is spreading its corporate empire to a country already known for the strength of its coffee.

After 43 years of roasting and selling Colombian coffee, Starbucks opened its first store in Bogota, fully aware that it will have to compete with a number of domestic chains in a country with one of the world’s most vibrant coffee cultures. The new coffeehouse is bigger and more fancy than your typical Starbucks—the three-floored café has comfortable armchairs and elaborate wall art. The new branch will be the first anywhere to sell exclusively locally-sourced Starbucks coffee, the company said in a statement.

Starbucks “is looking to achieve a leadership position in the [Colombian] market,” said a statement by Nutresa, one of the two Latin American companies Starbucks is partnering with in the new venture.

The U.S. company’s main competitor will be Juan Valdez, a multinational chain that also sells 100% Colombian coffee. Juan Valdez seems to welcome the competition, though; Alejadra Londono, head of international sales, told the New York Daily News that “there’s room in the market for us both.”

Yet with Starbucks planning to open 50 stores in the market within the next five years, it remains to be seen whether Londono’s assured words will stick.

TIME Breastfeeding Wars

What Starbucks Tells Employees About Breastfeeding Customers

PraxisPhotography—Getty Images/Flickr RF

A young male barista comes to the defense of a nursing mother winning accolades and some criticism as the story goes viral.

A Starbucks employee who defended a woman’s right to breastfeed in the coffee shop was not acting under instructions from head office, but on his own, according to the company.

In a sign of how supercharged the emotions have become about public nursing, a Canadian midwife’s tale of nursing her baby at a local Starbucks in Ottawa went a little viral in early July, getting picked up by news outlets around the globe. The story was, to many, a heartwarming one: after a woman complained to a young, male barista that another woman was breastfeeding without a modesty shield, the barista said he’d take care of it. However, instead of telling the nursing mom to cover up, he just brought her an extra coffee for having to deal with the unpleasantness.

This is not actually Starbucks’ official policy. In fact, Starbucks doesn’t have an official policy on breastfeeding, according to spokeswoman Laurel Harper. The cappu-chain does have an official policy about making customers feel welcome, Harper noted (several times). “We empower our local partners to reach a decision about how best to make a customer’s experience a positive one,” she says. (Starbucks calls its employees partners, because they all get stock in the company.) It was up to the employee to decide which customer in this case was going to have a less-positive experience.

The company also doesn’t have a policy on what to do if a customer comes and exposes different, less nourishing body parts, either, but does expect “partners” to be familiar with local law.

Not all of the reactions to the story, which was first picked up by woman behind the Canadian website PhD in Parenting, have been of the “Awww, good for him” type. For many people, public breastfeeding is akin to indecent exposure. They can’t understand why they have to be confronted by nudity. “I know it’s just life for the nursing mom, but seeing something partially exposed isn’t normal for everyone around them,” was one of the more moderate comments. “I’ve been in a few situations where I just happened to turn my head and my gaze caught sight of something I didn’t want (or mean) to see.” For others it’s an inoffensive as watching someone drink, say a Venti iced skinny hazelnut macchiato with an extra shot and no whip. It’s not their beverage of choice, but it’s not a big deal.

But perhaps because of the very primal urge mothers feel to feed their children, emotions run very high whenever the subject comes up and the right to breastfeed has become something of a cri de couer for mothers—and others—and Nurse-In protests are becoming more popular. One the most recent was at a Connecticut Friendly’s in June. If the actions of the young Starbucks “partner,”are any indication, the culture is tipping in the moms’ favor.

As for the 19-year-old barista in question, he hasn’t been named. Although you might be able to find him by looking for the mom in Ottawa with the biggest smile on her face and working back.

TIME Food & Drink

These Are the Most Popular Starbucks Drinks Across the U.S.

Quartz

People in Portland really love eggnog lattes, apparently

The United States is a nation of enthusiastic coffee drinkers, and this map created by Quartz reveals what types of Starbucks coffee drinks are most popular throughout the country.

The map is based on data from hundreds of millions of Starbucks transactions across the U.S. Though the most popular beverages across the board were basic brewed coffee and lattes, certain cities showed an affinity for more specific, unique drinks. (We’re looking at you, Memphis and Portland.)

Quartz also noticed a sort of “cold-hot axis,” meaning that typically warm states like Florida, Texas, New Mexico and Hawaii order more iced coffee than hot coffee overall. Another divide that’s a bit harder to explain is dark vs. light. Cities like Chicago and Philadelphia opt for light roasts, whereas cities like Boston and Seattle go dark.

Other conclusions: people from southern California really love their Frappuccinos, and people from Seattle (Starbucks’ home city) are really into espresso.

TIME publishing

Starbucks Chair Co-Writing Book on Military Vets

NEW YORK — Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz is collaborating on a book about veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, Heroism, and Sacrifice” will be released by Alfred A. Knopf on Nov. 4. The book will be co-written by Washington Post correspondent and editor Rajiv Chandrasekaran.

“Given that less than 1 percent of our country has served in the military conflicts of the last decade, this is a time in America when it’s crucial to bridge the divide in our society between our civilian and military populations,” Schultz said in a statement issued Monday by the publisher.

The book will tell of deeds both on the battlefield and back home, whether an orthopedic surgeon who enlisted at age 60 and saved numerous lives or a military spouse helping wives of severely wounded soldiers.

Schultz has been a prominent advocate for veterans, saying that too little has been done for them once their service was completed. He has pledged to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses, and earlier this year donated $30 million for research into post-traumatic stress syndrome and brain trauma.

According to Knopf, Schultz is giving all author proceeds to charity.

MONEY inflation

Why the Fed Won’t Care About Higher Prices Until You Get a Real Raise

Stacks of food in bar graph
Tim Macpherson—Getty Images

Why rates are staying low even though your grocery bill is up.

Inflation is the buzz on Wall Street this week. The consumer price index recently topped 2% for the first time since late 2012. To be clear, that’s still very low. If you are a middle-aged American like me, inflation is lower than it’s been for most for your entire life.

Fed chair Janet Yellen says she’s not concerned about inflation yet—she calls the data “noisy.” Money’s Paul Lim has a deeper dive into that data and why the Fed isn’t raising rates here.

But maybe you are scratching your head about Yellen’s calm. You can certainly feel a pinch on regular shopping trips. Meat prices are through the roof. And now there’s even news that Starbucks will be charging more for your morning caffeine fix.

Part of the issue is that we probably notice what’s gone up more than what’s down. (The news media sure does.) There’s always something on the consumer price index spiking up. But then there’s usually stuff getting cheaper, too. The past year has seen a decline in the prices of bread, peanut butter and bananas. Furniture and appliances are cheaper. And men’s clothes cost less (but not women’s, oddly). Kids’ toys, televisions, and computers are bargains compared to last year. No, you can’t live just munching on PB&B sandwiches in front your new laptop (you shouldn’t, anyway)—even so, add all those little items up and they do count as important part of your cost of living.

More important, though, is that the Fed keeps its eye not just on prices but on what’s driving them. If coffee prices shoot up because of a drought in Brazil, you may feel a squeeze in your budget, but that’s not the broad inflation the Fed worries about. The classic driver of broadly rising prices is higher wages.

When you and I are able to get more pay, we spend more. That increase in demand makes it possible for companies to raise their prices. Then workers start looking for even higher pay to catch up to rising prices, and so on. As economist and Fed watcher Tim Duy notes in his takedown of “inflation hysteria” here, “If inflation accelerates while wage growth remains stagnant, demand will soften and so too will any incipient price pressures.”

And how is wage growth looking? Better, but not exactly on fire.

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SOURCE: St. Louis Fed

Workers are just about staying ahead of prices, a little, and their real wages aren’t keeping up with productivity gains. And that’s for the ones with jobs: Unemployment remains on the high side, with lots of people missing from the labor force too.

The Fed will start worrying about price spikes, in short, when wages start moving too. That the Fed will wait to quash higher prices until you’re getting paid more sounds a little perverse. But the alternative—jacking up interest rates and throwing people out of work every time hamburger gets more expensive—would be a lot nastier.

TIME Companies

Starbucks Is Making a Huge Change

A Starbucks sign in New York City on June 16, 2014.
A Starbucks sign in New York City on June 16, 2014. Justin Lane—EPA

Coffee company adding three handcrafted sodas to its cold-beverage menu at more than 3,000 U.S. stores.

fortunelogo-blue
This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

Starbucks is adding three handcrafted sodas to its cold-beverage menu at more than 3,000 U.S. stores, an expansion by the coffeehouse giant that has increasingly diversified to offer more drinks outside its core business.

The company this week will begin to sell three sodas—Spiced Root Beer, Golden Ginger Ale and Lemon Ale—in 16 states mostly located in the South and Southwest.

The sodas are made by the retailer’s baristas using a machine called Fizzio, which carbonates the sodas but can also add carbonation to ice teas and other drinks. Drinks are made to order and take about a minute and a half to complete—roughly the same amount of time for the other drinks made behind the company’s coffee bars.

The move by Starbucks to enter the roughly $415 billion global carbonated beverage market comes as the coffee giant has expanded its menu to offer more teas, smoothies and other drinks in recent years.

For the rest of the story, go to Fortune.com.

TIME Food & Drink

Starbucks Raises the Pride Flag Above Seattle Headquarters

Starbucks marked the 40th anniversary of Seattle Pride by raising an 800-square-foot flag at its corporate headquarters as a group of employees and CEO Howard Schultz watched from below in Seattle on June 20, 2014.
Starbucks marked the 40th anniversary of Seattle Pride by raising an 800-square-foot flag at its corporate headquarters as a group of employees and CEO Howard Schultz watched from below in Seattle on June 23, 2014. Nate Gowdy

Starbucks gets into Seattle's Pride Weekend

Starbucks made a very prominent declaration of its support for LGBT rights on Monday when company headquarters raised a rainbow flag in honor of the Seattle Pride Parade.

This isn’t the first time the national coffee chain has used its prominent brand to advocate for the gay community. In 2012, Starbucks was on a list of companies endorsing the legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington state, the Seattle Times reported.

“Given our public stance on diversity and inclusion of all people, particularly on this issue, it makes sense to raise the flag in celebration,” Executive Vice President Lucy Helm said in a statement.

The flag will remain raised throughout the weekend.

MONEY Food & Drink

Your 4 Favorite Things to Eat & Drink Are Getting More Expensive

Stack of steaks
Karen To—Getty Images

It's as if the powers that be are conspiring against the Ron Swansons of the world: Prices for coffee, beef, bacon, and whiskey are all on the rise.

Man’s man Ron Swanson, the wonderfully mustachioed anti-government government worker on “Parks and Recreation,” played by Nick Offerman, is known for his love of meat, whiskey, and breakfast. The fictional Swanson—and anyone who can identify with the character’s taste—will certainly not love what’s happening to the prices of some of his beloved food and drinks.

Coffee
On Tuesday, Starbucks raised prices on some coffee drinks, and bags of Starbucks coffee sold in supermarkets will be more expensive soon too. Medium and large-size coffees saw prices hikes of 10¢ and 15¢, respectively, while a bag of Starbucks beans will be about $1 more in the near future.

Starbucks joins coffee giants such as J.M. Smuckers, maker of brands Folgers and Dunkin’ Donuts bagged coffee, and Kraft Food Groups (Maxwell House), as well as Dunkin’ Donuts stores themselves, which have all recently increased prices or announced plans to do so this summer. The price hikes are being blamed on a drought in Brazil that will reduce the global supply of coffee beans.

Bacon
In addition to coffee, the price of another staple on the American breakfast table is on the rise: beloved bacon. At the beginning of 2014, word started spreading of a pig virus that was decimating the pig population on North American farms—and that would likely cause a surge in bacon prices down the line.

As any bacon lover who pays close attention to supermarket prices can attest, the increase is now in full effect. Industry publication Burger Business noted that the average retail price for a pound of bacon at the supermarket reached $6.05 recently, an 18.8% rise compared with May 2013.

Beef
Beef prices have been on a tear for months, largely as a result of a long drought and soaring demand. Thanks to a shrinking supply of cattle, according to Bloomberg News, ground beef prices are at a record high, after rising 76% since 2009.

Prices for all cuts of steak have been soaring as well, which has translated not only to higher grocery bills for shoppers, but pricier menus at steakhouses and fast food establishments. Chipotle, McDonald’s, and In-N-Out Burger have all hiked menu prices recently as a response to broader trends in the cattle industry.

Whiskey
After the reality of all of those price hikes sets in, you’re going to need a drink. Appropriately, it too will cost more in the near future if your drink of choice is whiskey.

A bourbon shortage and the merger of two global giants in whiskey are among the reasons that prices of the popular spirit are expected to head skyward, and soon.

TIME Food & Drink

Your Caffeine Fix at Starbucks Is About to Get Pricier

Customers will be paying more for their coffee starting this week

+ READ ARTICLE

Starbucks coffee customers might have a hard time looking at the cup as half full after the company announced price hikes starting Tuesday.

The coffee giant said customers can expect to pay 5 to 20 cents more on some—but not all—drinks, and that the price of packaged coffee sold in grocery stores will increase by $1, from $8.99 to $9.99 for a 12 ounce bag.

A drought during the rainy season in Brazil—the world’s largest coffee producer—meant that many coffee companies raised prices this year. But a Starbucks’ spokesperson told Fortune that coffee costs historically account for less than 10% of operating costs, so other factors, like fuel, energy and labor costs, were considered in the price hike.

For caffeine lovers who just can’t stop grumbling about the onerous price of coffee, here’s another fresh brewed reason for you to complain.

 

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