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Starbucks makes push into juices with opening of first Evolution Fresh store

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SEATTLE - Starbucks Corp. is pushing beyond coffee with the opening of the first Evolution Fresh Inc. juice store, the company said Monday.

Starbucks, which is looking for new businesses for growth, purchased the California-based juice maker in November for $30 million. Evolution Fresh had been selling its juices in grocery stores such as Whole Foods groceries. The first Evolution Fresh store is in Bellevue, Wash.

Aside from juices, Starbucks says Evolution Fresh shops will have wraps, soups, salads, vegetarian and vegan options and other offerings.

Starbucks shares rose 15 cents to $53.36 in premarket trading Monday.

Evolution Fresh, started by Naked Juice founder Jimmy Rosenberg, is one of the few larger juice companies that still cracks, peels, presses and squeezes its own fruits and vegetables rather than using pureed or powdered ingredients. It also uses a process called high-pressure pasteurization to make the juice without heating it.

Starbucks sees these methods as a competitive edge over juice makers such as Odwalla or Naked Juice, which it currently carries in its stores, as it allows Evolution Fresh to keep a higher nutritional quality in the juice while maintaining the taste.

Starbucks said Evolution Fresh drinks will make their way into Starbucks' company-owned stores later this year. Evolution Fresh is also planning to add new seasonal and other juices to its product lineup.

Starbucks' acquisition of Evolution Fresh is part of an attempt to broaden its business as consumers demand healthier products and it faces growing competition from the likes of McDonald's Corp. and Dunkin' Brands Group Inc.'s Dunkin' Donuts chain. The company has rolled out lower-calorie and lower-fat food options, sugar-free syrups and switched from whole milk to 2 per cent milk as the default in its drinks.

Starbucks, which is based in Seattle, also announced Monday that its Seattle's Best Coffee brand opened a new coffee drive-thru in a suburban Chicago neighbourhood. The company said the store is geared toward meeting the needs of commuters.

"Our customers are constantly on-the-go and they tell us that finding great coffee options that fit their busy lifestyles is tough. They're sacrificing great tasting coffee and food for speed and convenience, and we can put an end to that," Jim McDermet, senior vice-president and general manager of Seattle's Best Coffee, said in a statement.

The drive-thru in Northlake, Ill., offers coffee, fresh-baked food items like muffins, car-friendly breakfast sandwiches and snacks such as cheese pretzel danish and caramel apple pies.

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