The Associated Press September 7, 2010, 7:06AM ET

Starbucks broadens reach of Via instant coffee

Starbucks is rolling out its instant coffee line in grocery stores in Japan, Canada and the U.K., the gourmet coffee chain said Tuesday.

Via Ready Brew, which has been available in North America for the past year, will now be offered at more than 55,000 locations globally this month. Starbucks Corp. hopes the move will give it a larger piece of the $23 billion instant coffee market.

The Seattle company has sought to make a success of Via -- which comes in a long cylindrical plastic sleeve and dissolves in a cup of water. Starbucks introduced the product last September with strong support from national television ads.

Japan, where more than 60 percent of all coffee sold is instant, will carry Via Coffee Essence at more than 11,000 grocery and convenience stores by September's end. The brand is already available at more than 800 Starbucks shops in the country, where it was launched in April.

The U.K. is an even bigger instant coffee market, as more than 80 percent of the country's total coffee sold is of the instant variety. Starbucks will now offer Via in U.K. grocery operators such as Tesco, Sainsbury and Waitrose.

The coffee chain will also distribute Via through Walmart, Loblaws, Safeway and Metro stores in Canada.

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