Nonprofit Pushing Starbucks to Drop Nondairy Upcharge in U.S.

Boosting sustainability & eliminating dietary racism key drivers of campaign

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – (January 31, 2022) – Confident in Starbucks’ commitment to do the right thing, nonprofit, health & dietary activist Switch4Good continues campaign calling on the mega-chain to end its plant-based milk upcharge in the United States.

On December 9, Switch4Good targeted Starbucks expensive upcharge on dairy-free beverages with its Justice Cup campaign. Less than three weeks later Starbucks announced it was dropping the fee at its 1,020 U.K. locations.

As part of its ongoing campaign, Switch4Good published an open letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson in a half-page ad in the Sunday, January 23 edition of The Seattle Times. Bolstered by 22 high-profile co-signers, the letter thanks Starbucks for eliminating the non-dairy upcharge in the U.K. and encourages the company to do the same at its 9,000 stores in the U.S.

Dropping the unfair upcharge in the U.S. would align with Starbucks’ stated commitment to sustainability. Compared to cow’s milk, oat milk requires 80% less land, 90% less water and emits less than one-third of the CO2emissions.

Starbucks would also support its commitment to racial and social justice by not charging extra for non-dairy milk. Digesting dairy poses health difficulties for the vast majority of people of color and more than a third of the U.S. population.

“It’s essential that corporations, school lunch programs, food chains and decision makers realize the disproportionate burden charging extra for nondairy substitutes puts on people,” stated Switch4Good Executive Director and Olympic silver medalist Dotsie Bausch. “Plant-based milk is not a luxury that should be taxed or viewed as a profit center. It’s a necessity for many.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, 68% of the world’s population has lactose malabsorption (is lactose intolerant). It’s far more common among those who are Black, Asian, Hispanic and Native American (with 80-95% of these groups being lactose intolerant). Lactose malabsorption leads to intestinal issues, because people have difficulty breaking down and digesting lactose. This can lead to bloating, diarrhea, gas and pain.

Dairy is Starbucks’s default milk with its beverages, resulting in gastrointestinal problems for a large percentage of its customers. Some people are aware of the condition and are forced to pay the upcharge to avoid getting sick, while others may not yet be aware of the link between their Starbucks’ patronage and their health issues.

“Over a hundred million people in the U.S. have a hard time digesting dairy,” added Bausch. “People should not have to be subjected to paying the minimum 70-cent upcharge Starbucks imposes in the U.S. just to avoid getting sick. We applaud Starbucks for dropping the upcharge in the U.K. Now it’s time to do it in the U.S.”

About Switch4Good
Switch4Good is a nonprofit organization aimed at raising awareness about the problems associated with consuming dairy and helping people make the switch to living dairy free. The organization provides information about how dairy impacts the environment, health, fitness, food justice and animals. For more information about Founder and Olympian Dotsie Bausch, the organization, or how to make the switch to a dairy-free diet, please visit: https://switch4good.org

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Media Assets:

  • Original letter to Starbucks CEO / The Seattle Times Ad
  • Infographics about dairy
  • Phone, video or email interview with Dotsie Bausch
  • Photos of Dotsie Bausch

Media Contact:

Jason Sherman, [email protected], 312-803-0238

SHERMAN communications and marketing

Source: National Institutes of Health. Definition & Facts for Lactose Intolerance. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/lactose-intolerance/definition-facts#:~:text=Experts%20estimate%20that%20about%2068,world’s%20population%20has%20lactose%20malabsorption.&text=Lactose%20malabsorption%20is%20more%20common,the%20world%20than%20in%20others.

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