Starbucks Ditches Vegan Milk Surcharge In All UK Stores After Switch4Good Spoof Campaign

3 Mins Read

Starbucks U.K. says it will remove all surcharges for dairy-free milk. The initiative will be rolled out in all 1,020 stores from January 5. The announcement comes shortly after a spoof press release spearheaded by the nonprofit Switch4Good was distributed, pledging to drop the surcharge. Starbucks denied it was making any such move at the time.

The world’s biggest and most influential coffee chain is ditching its dairy surcharge in the UK. The news coincides with Veganuary and the launch of new Starbucks plant-based menu items.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Starbucks makes the switch

“With customisation at Starbucks core, this latest menu change will provide increased personalisation options and make it even easier for customers to choose whichever dairy alternative or milk they prefer, all year round,” the company said in a press release. The chain offers almond, coconut, oat and soya milk. It has developed a proprietary nut milk blend as well.

Starbucks has highlighted a commitment to expanding its plant-based menu. New drinks and food items have been confirmed. Strawberry & Vanilla, Dark Cocoa & Orange, and Honey & Hazelnut oat milk drinks top the roster. A partnership with The Vegetarian Butcher brings the ‘Tu’NAH Sandwich’ to menus. An all-day breakfast wrap and Cuban-style panini round off the sandwich additions. Sweet items have been added, too, including carrot cake and chocolate muffins. A pecan and caramel brownie is expected. All items are slated for limited time availability following a January 5 launch. All stores and Drive Thru locations will offer the plant-based menu.

The decision to bolster new menu items with a dropping of the plant milk surcharge might have environmental motivations. “Forming part of our wider ambition to become a resource positive company, Starbucks works to migrate to a more environmentally friendly menu includes last month’s announcement of a sustainable dairy sourcing programme with Arla Foods to reduce the emissions from dairy,” the company confirmed.

No reference was made to the spoof campaign from December last year in the announcement. Accusations of ongoing dietary racism were also left unaddressed.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Adding pressure and making change

U.S.-based nonprofit Switch4Good, which is helmed by former Olympian Dotsie Bausch, launched its campaign on December 9, 2021. Circulating a hoax press release, it claimed that Starbucks was ditching plant milk surcharges. It went on to claim that it was an attempt to address years of dietary racism. Starbucks had no intention of removing add-on costs and did not respond to accusations of discrimination. No information has been made available as to the motivation to drop surcharges now.

U.K. chains Costa and Pret a Manger both dropped their plant milk add-ons back in 2020.

Elsewhere, milk equality is on the agenda for Scotland. The government announced that plant milk has been added to the country-wide free school milk programme. It comes after low-income families felt financially pressured by having to supply their own dairy alternatives.

Lead image courtesy of Starbucks.


  • Amy Buxton

    A long-term committed ethical vegan and formerly Green Queen's resident plant-based reporter, Amy juggles raising a family and maintaining her editorial career, while also campaigning for increased mental health awareness in the professional world. Known for her love of searing honesty, in addition to recipe developing, animal welfare and (often lacklustre) attempts at handicrafts, she’s hands-on and guided by her veganism in all aspects of life. She’s also extremely proud to be raising a next-generation vegan baby.

You might also like