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Starbucks Corporation (SBUX - Analyst Report) hit a new 52-week high on the announcement of its decision to post calorie counts for its beverages and food items. The count will be given on its menus across all its U.S. stores, starting next week.

This initiative will provide further nutritional transparency to Starbucks’ customers and will allow this Zacks Rank # 2 (Buy) company to reap benefits from evolving consumer needs for healthy and nutritious products. Starbucks provides a range of customizable beverages to cater to varying calorie requirements as well as taste preferences. Starbucks also offers a variety of wholesome breakfast and lunch options. Nutritional information is made available on its website - Starbucks.com and on the Starbucks Mobile App for the iPhone.

In its drive to offer nutritional and healthy products, Starbucks acquired Evolution Fresh in Nov 2011 and opened Evolution Fresh juice stores across the U.S. Evolution Fresh beverages, already available in 4,000 plus company-operated stores, are expected in approximately 8,000 locations nationwide by the end of 2013.

In Mar 2012, the company launched an energy drink, Starbucks Refreshers, made from real fruit juice and green coffee extract in select grocery stores. Recently, the company launched wholesome Salad Bowls, each offering less than 450 calories.

The North American food industry is witnessing changes in consumer preferences toward health and wellness and “good-for-you” products due to increasing health consciousness and obesity concerns. Accordingly, food and beverage companies are trying to incorporate healthier products.

PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP - Analyst Report) is focusing on reduced calorie beverages, non-carbonated beverages and healthier snacks. The food and beverage giant is making evolutionary natural sweeteners and flavorings aimed at reducing calories to re-vitalize the declining sales of its colas. It also aims to grow its nutrition brands like Quaker, Tropicana and Gatorade to reap benefits from shifting consumer preference toward “good-for-you” and health and wellness products.

Similarly, General Mills Inc. (GIS - Analyst Report) also focuses on the health and nutrition products which comprise 68% of the food giant’s U.S. retail volume. Some of its recent innovations, mainly in the yogurt category, add more nutritional value to packaged food with more fruits, vegetables and fiber, and less fat content. The idea is to appeal to the growing numbers of health conscious customers who prefer the convenience of packaged food without compromising on health.

Kraft Foods Group (KRFT - Analyst Report) has also offered a variety of products with improved nutritional profile like Planters NUT-rition, Oscar Mayer Selects and more low-fat cheese options. The company has also re-formulated products to add beneficial ingredients, fruit, vegetables and vitamins. For example, its Capri Sun Super V beverage contains a full serving of fruit and vegetables.

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