Green Mountain to introduce 'wellness' drinks
NEW YORK (AP) — Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. on Thursday plans to introduce a line of drinks touting antioxidants, vitamins and other health benefits, as the company looks to expand amid intensifying competition for its single-serve coffee drinks.
The Waterbury, Vt.-based company's "Wellness Brewed" drinks, which can be made with its Keurig single-serve brewing machines, come as the patent on its K-cup technology is set to expire this month.
Already, supermarket operators The Kroger Co. and SuperValu Inc., have said they plan to introduce store-brand versions of the single-serve coffee pods.
Separately, Starbucks Corp. plans to start selling its own brewing machine this fall called Verismo. The Seattle-based company says its machine, which will let customers make lattes as well as traditional brewed coffee, targets a different audience than the Keurig machine. But Green Mountain's stock nevertheless took a hit when the news was announced in March.
Green Mountain Coffee, which pioneered the single-serve coffee system in the U.S., experienced rapid growth on soaring sales of its Keurig coffee systems. But the company has struggled recently amid a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry, analyst concerns over its reporting methods and the looming expiration of its patent.
In announcing its third-quarter results last month, CEO Lawrence Blanford said that sales growth would moderate from the hyper-growth it had shown over the past few years.
Three of the new coffees to be introduced Thursday boast antioxidants and another called "Focus Blend" has L-theanine, an amino acid found in tea. Two other "Vitamin Burst" drinks were introduced earlier this summer will also be part of the Wellness line.
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