Starbucks is breaking into the yogurt industry. On Tuesday, the coffeehouse announced a strategic partnership with French-based Danone that will result in the creation of an Evolution Fresh-branded Greek yogurt. Starbucks is moving quickly with the Evolution Fresh brand; the company purchased the juice maker in late 2011, opened its first dedicated store in March 2012 and now plans to bring ready-to-eat yogurt parfaits to market in spring 2014.

The new yogurt products, which will be known as Evolution Fresh, Inspired by Dannon, will be rolled out to grocery stores in 2015 with future plans to launch the product in international markets. This is an aggressive marketing plan for Greek yogurt. 

The Evolution Fresh announcement isn’t the only yogurt topic making the news today, though. Dannon is under fire for the use of carmine, a bug-based colorant, in some of its yogurt products. 

"I have nothing against people who eat insects, but when I buy strawberry yogurt I'm expecting yogurt and strawberries, and not red dye made from bugs," said Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI) executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "Given the fact that it causes allergic reactions in some people, and that it's easy to use safer, plant-based colors, why would Dannon use it at all? Why risk offending vegetarians and grossing out your other customers?"

The CPSI launched a ‘Berries Over Bugs!’ campaign yesterday, demanding that Dannon switch to a natural colorant for several of its popular flavors including the strawberry Dannon Oikos Greek yogurt. Yes, that’s right, Greek yogurt and not just any Greek yogurt, Dannon Greek yogurt.

This is familiar territory for Starbucks, though. The Seattle-based coffee chain faced serious public outrage in March 2012 when it was revealed that it used  the bug-based colorant known as carmine in some of its pink products, including my son’s favorite Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino. Starbucks committed to stop using carmine not long after the bug brouhaha made headlines.

Now I have to wonder, will the Starbucks and Danone strategic partnership include Starbuck’s real-world advice on eliminating carmine from Dannon products?

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