Starbucks to add oat milk to menus nationwide in spring 2021, debut new Shaken Iced Espresso drink

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Starbucks plans to bring oat milk to its menus nationwide in the spring of 2021, the coffee giant announced during its biennial investor day on Wednesday.

Following a successful regional test, oat milk will now be available at all U.S. locations as customers seek more plant-based, environmentally-friendly, and health-conscious options. Starbucks, which introduced soy milk to its menus in 1997, added coconut milk in 2015 and almond milk in 2016 due to the growing popularity of non-dairy options.

[Read more: Starbucks' stock opens at record as company eyes 55,000 stores by 2030]

In August, competitor Dunkin' (DNKN) introduced oat milk, the fastest-growing plant-based milk option, to menus at all of its restaurants nationwide after testing the option in California locations at the start of 2020.

Beverage innovation

Oat milk and other plant-based options have played an important role in driving what Starbucks often refers to as its beverage innovation.

"[By] simply changing the dairy option, asking for sugar-free syrups, or removing whip cream, customers can decide the ingredient and calorie content of their favorite beverages," COO Roz Brewer said during her prepared remarks.

Brewer said that Starbucks will debut its Shaken Iced Espresso, a drink first conceptualized in the coffee chain's higher-end Roasteries. The new beverage will feature espresso, brown sugar, and oat milk hand-shaken and poured over ice “to a smooth velvety finish.”

“It speaks to how we're meeting the generational shift in customers' tastes while addressing the needs of the health-conscious,” Brewer added.

Millennial and Gen-Z customers are "two-times more likely to drink cold coffee,” according to Brewer.

“That's great news as cold beverages have driven more than $1 billion in sales over the past three years,” she added.

Starbucks' cold beverage platform has grown by nearly 45% in the past four years.

“[So] for Starbucks, cold is hot,” Brewer added.

Brewer believes that the new Shaken Iced Espresso featuring oat milk "will resonate all year across all day."

CEO Kevin Johnson emphasized that Starbucks “will further elevate plant-based beverage and food options that resonate with our customers” for both its cold and hot platforms.

Shares of Starbucks surged to a new all-time high on Thursday to last trade near $104.92, up 4.52%, or $4.52.

Julia La Roche is a correspondent for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on
Twitter. Brooke DiPalma is a producer and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma.