May 11, 2022
James Cromwell, the Oscar-nominated actor, best known for his roles in such films as “Babe,” “The Green Mile” and the HBO series “Succession” has a problem with Starbucks over its policy of upcharging for non-dairy milk options used in the chain’s drinks. He took his disagreement public yesterday at a Starbucks in Manhattan after he glued his hand to the counter as part of a PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) protest.
Mr. Cromwell, wearing a “Free the Animals” t-shirt, sat on the store’s counter while baristas continued to make drinks behind him.
“More than 13,000 customers have asked you,” said the 82-year-old actor. “Now we’re asking: Will you stop charging more for vegan milk? When will you stop raking in huge profits while customers, animals and the environment suffer?”
Police arrived at the scene and told protestors that they would have to leave or be arrested. Mr. Cromwell and another man detached themselves from the counter and left the store without charges.
— PETA (@peta) May 10, 2022
PETA claims that Starbucks charges up to 80 cents more for lattes made with almond, coconut, oat or soy milk vs. cow milk.
“We respect our customers’ rights to respectfully voice their opinions so long as it does not disrupt our store operations,” a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Customers can customize any beverage on the menu with a non-dairy milk, including soy, coconut, almond and oat for an additional cost (similar to other beverage customizations such as an additional espresso shot or syrup). Pricing varies market by market.”
Mr. Cromwell is not the first personality to take issue with Starbucks’ upcharge for non-dairy milk. Sir Paul McCartney in March wrote a letter to the retail coffee giant asking it to do away with the practice.
The former Beatle wrote that Starbucks no longer charges extra for non-dairy milk in the UK and he was surprised that it was being done in the U.S., according to a Vanity Fair report. He asked the chain to put an end to the practice as a service to the environment.
Sir Paul and Mr. Cromwell pointed out that other retailers including Panera Bread, Philz Coffee, Pret A Manger and Wawa do not charge customers more for non-dairy beverages in their coffee or tea.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do objections by celebrities such as James Cromwell and Paul McCartney increase the likelihood that Starbucks will end the upcharge for non-dairy beverages in its coffee drinks? Will Starbucks’ rationale for the upcharge be accepted by customers who include non-dairy beverages in their orders?
“I don’t condone stunts like those used in this example, but I suspect it will encourage Starbucks to at least reconsider its policies, hence encouraging more stunts.”
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