Starbucks is testing a Frappuccino with less sugar, but comparisons to other drinks reveals the change may not be enough to win back customers

Photo courtesy of StarbucksStarbucks is cutting sugar from the Frappuccino.
  • Starbucks is testing a new Frappuccino with less sugar at 600 stores after spending two years trying to make the drink healthier.
  • A side-by-side comparison between the old and new Frappuccino reveals that the updated drink only has 40 fewer calories than the traditional version.
  • Here is how Starbucks’ revamped Frappuccino actually measures up to some of the most sugary drinks you can buy.

Starbucks is testing a new Frappuccino with less sugar. But, comparing the drink to other sugary beverages raises questions on if the coffee chain is going far enough to win back customers.

On Thursday, the coffee giant announced that it is now serving a revamped Frappuccino at 600 stores in California, Missouri and Rhode Island.

The new drinks will have fewer calories and less sugar. A representative for the chain told Business Insider that the stores will only serve the updated Frappuccino recipes, as part of Starbucks’ effort to cut sugar by 25% across the chain’s “most indulgent” beverages.

The change took an incredible amount of effort, Starbucks executives told The Wall Street Journal, with two years of internal testing. According to The Journal, Starbucks tested “20 types of cream, 70 different vanilla flavourings and created a new bottle to make sure the proper amounts of flavour are dispensed” prior to rolling out the revamped recipe.

How much sugar is in your favourite coffee drinks tableShayanne Gal/BI Graphics

However, a closer look at how Starbucks’ Frappuccino actually measures up to other sugary beverages on the market raises questions on if the chain is doing enough to convince customers to start buying the drink again.

Starbucks did a good job slashing the sugar per fluid ounce. However, the calorie count is still pretty high – which is especially remarkable when considering that Starbucks’ new Frappuccino uses 2% milk, while the older version uses whole milk. In fact, if you order the “old” Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino with 2% milk, it is 410 calories, just 40 calories more than the updated version.

Starbucks faces a different issue when it comes to how much sugar remains in the Frappuccino. The chain has made major progress, but it might not be enough to convince customers. Sugar has been under fire in recent years, with a large amount of evidence pointing towards its negative impact on health.

The FDA recommends consuming no more than 50 grams of sugar a day. While the new Frappuccino falls under that limit, it only misses the recommended daily amount by a single gram. Coming so close to the limit makes it difficult for the new Frappuccino to be something that actually wins over health nuts.

Starbucks is desperate to figure out how to convince customers to order the Frappuccino once again. The company reported in its most recent quarter of earnings in late July that same-store sales in the United States increased just 1%, negatively impacted by poor Frappuccino sales that executives blamed on customers shifting away from sugary drinks.

However, if years of effort could only make this much of a difference in the Frappuccino’s nutritional value, reconfiguring the recipe may not be the win that Starbucks needs.

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