Food by VICE

Starbucks Blames 'Health & Wellness Trend' for Declining Sales of Frappuccinos

If only people could just ignore the fact that they're drinking 63 grams of sugar with their breakfast.

by Jelisa Castrodale
Jun 22 2018, 2:23pm

Photo via Flickr user Kristopha Hohn

It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago, everyone’s Instagram feeds were clogged with well-lit shots of Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccinos. Here‘s one with my impeccable manicure. Here’s one with a clear blue sky in the background. Here’s one with the last vestige of my dwindling youth.

The fact that we’re spared from another summer of ridiculous FrapGrams is… well, it’s our own stupid, increasingly health-conscious fault, according to Starbucks. The Associated Press reports that sales of sugary drinks at Starbucks—including those limited-edition Unicorn, Zombie, and Crystal Ball Frappuccinos—have dropped 3 percent since this time last year. And rather than blame itself in any way, the company is suggesting that the decline is because of “the health and wellness trend” that has made their customers opt for drinks that don’t contain five tablespoons of sugar.

“These are oftentimes more indulgent beverages—higher in sugar, higher in calories,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said during a call with investors.

No shit, Kev. The AP uses the Cupcake Creme Frappuccino and Triple Mocha Frappuccino as examples of those “indulgences”: a 16-ounce serving of either one has around 400 calories and 63 and 51 grams of sugar, respectively. By contrast, a small Chocolate Frosty from Wendy’s has 47 grams of sugar, a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola contains 39 grams of sugar, and two Original Glazed Krispy Kreme donuts have a relatively tidy 20 grams.

But some industry analysts have questioned the “health and wellness” excuse, because it’s not like Americans JUST RIGHT NOW decided “Hey, maybe we should stop eating like a 14-year-old at a slumber party.” Sara Senatore, a restaurant analyst from Bernstein, suggested that one factor contributing to declining sales might be the price of a Frappuccino, which can cost more than $5 for a single drink.

This also might not have been a total surprise to Starbucks. In April, the company announced that it would be cutting back on limited-edition drinks by “nearly 30 percent”, including those technicolor yawns it’s put into plastic Frappuccino cups. And earlier this month, it also said that it will increase the price of its regular drip coffee by 10 cents to 20 cents in US stores.

Maybe it should go ahead and hike the cost of those Frappuccinos too. Let’s call it an Instagram tax.