London, Feb. 18 (ANI): In a bid to fight 'misperceptions about affordability', Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz has unveiled Via Ready Brew instant coffee, which will be priced at less than a dollar per cup.
"The coffee consumption landscape is ripe for disruption. This is a big move for us - an opportunity to reinvent a category, create new rituals and grow our customer base," the Telegraph quoted Schultz, as saying.
Starbucks now hopes that Via will expand its reach in the 17 billion dollars global instant coffee market by appealing to travelers, campers, home coffee brewers and other coffee lovers.
The recession-hit company, which recently announced another round of store closures and job cuts, will introduce Via in select markets in the United States and in London next month.
A trio of single-serve Via packets will sell for 2.95 dollars in the United States and 12 packets will be priced at 9.95 dollars.
Via's target customer in the United States is the brewed coffee drinker, Schultz said.
Instant coffee is not exceptionally popular in Starbucks' key US market, but it accounts for about 40 per cent of coffee sales outside the United States.
Already, Starbucks is competing with the US rivals who are doing a good job of weathering the economic storm.
The company faces tough competition in the world market from established brands such Nestle Sa's Nescafe and Kraft Foods Inc's Sanka.
Fast-food leader McDonald's Corp offers its McCafe espresso drinks, while Panera Bread Co is rolling out new coffee and breakfast items, and plans to test steel-cut oatmeal after Starbucks' instant oatmeal found success.
Starbucks already sells bags of ground coffee, prepared drinks and some branded food items through grocery stores in the United States and certain overseas markets. (ANI)