Are visible calorie counts impacting local consumers’ purchases at Starbucks?

Natalie Tomlin, special to

WASHINGTON – If you’re like most Americans and need your caffeine fix in the morning, you may have noticed a recent addition to the Starbucks menu — and it’s not a new seasonal Frappuccino flavor.

As of June 25, all U.S. Starbucks locations have posted calorie information for the range of products on the menu boards and pastry labels.

It is another way for the coffee giant to maximize transparency for its offerings so customers can make informed choices, a company spokesperson says.

The mandate may be the corporation’s attempt to get a step ahead of other chain restaurants that have yet to list calorie counts, according to Forbes.

The Food and Drug Administration will soon require restaurants with 20 or more locations to list their calories on the menu.

A Starbucks spokesperson says the company was encouraged to make this step after participating in a study with Stanford University. The study suggested a relationship between consumer behavior and calorie postings.

The Stanford Graduate School of Business found a 6 percent reduction in calories per transaction when restaurants began posting calorie counts on the menu boards in New York in 2008.

So will the additional information influence what beverage D.C. residents choose at the countless locations throughout the D.C. area?

Emily Almand, a regular at the Arlington, Va., Starbucks next to Virginia Square Metro, says the recent placement of calorie counts on the menu has, in fact, impacted what she chooses to order.

“A lot of places now list calories and it makes me more conscious,” she says. “I may have already thought about it, but now when I see it, I’m like, ‘Oh I probably shouldn’t get the extra whip. I should probably get something with fewer calories.'”

Almand, 27, usually purchases a breakfast sandwich in the morning, followed by a coffee in the afternoon. But she usually opts for a basic latte with milk and no added sugar or cream.

“Occasionally, on a day like this, I’ll get an iced mocha, but [it’s] something more of like a sweet treat, not a regular,” she says. “Seeing the calorie count would probably make me stray away from something like a Frappuccino now that I know it’s that much of my daily calories.”

A Caff