Starbucks is to enter the ready-to-drink coffee category in Japan and Taiwan. Agreements were signed with Starbucks local business partners and major distributors in both countries in March to manufacture and distribute a Starbucks-branded ready-to-drink coffee, the company said yesterday (30 May). Starbucks plans to enter the category in the chilled segment.

In Japan, Starbucks has entered into an agreement with Suntory Ltd. Starbucks Coffee Japan, Ltd. will provide ongoing consulting support including local brand and marketing expertise for the Japanese market.

In Taiwan, Starbucks has entered into a distribution agreement with President Starbucks Coffee Taiwan Limited, the company's joint venture partner in Taiwan, for marketing and distribution of the new product. The product for Taiwan will be manufactured by Uni-President Enterprises Corporation.

"Extending the Starbucks brand into new distribution channels is part of our long-term growth plans," said Gerry Lopez, president, Starbucks Global Consumer Products.

"The success we have had bringing bottled Starbucks Frappuccino coffee drink and Starbucks DoubleShot espresso drink to consumers in channels outside of our retail stores in the US and Canada demonstrates our potential worldwide. Our decision to take this first step to expand into the consumer products channel in Asia is a result of strong worldwide acceptance of the Starbucks brand as part of people's daily lives."

Through a joint venture with Pepsi-Cola Company, in 1996 the company introduced bottled Starbucks Frappuccino coffee drink and later Starbucks DoubleShot espresso drink.