Panera extends 'clean' commitment to beverages

by Eric Schroeder
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Beginning this fall, Panera said it will add a new version of its seasonal pumpkin spice latte made with real pumpkin.

ST. LOUIS — Panera Bread Co. is expanding its commitment to offering “clean” products with the announcement it is making ingredient changes to some of its popular beverage products. Beginning this fall, the bakery-cafe said it will add a new version of its seasonal pumpkin spice latte and a new line of “clean” bottled beverages that are free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives. The beverages will join Panera’s brewed teas, lemonades, smoothies, bottled milks and juices that already are free of artificial ingredients.

Panera’s new pumpkin spice latte will be made with select ingredients, including milk, pumpkin, whipped cream, spices and salted caramel sauce. The latte will be available at Panera locations nationwide beginning on Sept. 9.

Dan Kish, head chef for Panera.

“Our pumpkin spice latte has long been made with real pumpkin and without artificial caramel color — and this year we’re taking ‘real’ a step further,” said Dan Kish, head chef for Panera. “We’re offering a ‘real pumpkin latte,’ made entirely without artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives, and letting the goodness of real pumpkin, milk and spices do all the work.”

The announcement comes a day after Seattle-based Starbucks said it is removing caramel coloring and adding pumpkin puree to its pumpkin spice latte in response to customer and partner concerns about ingredients.

In addition to the new latte, Panera said testing is under way to roll out “clean” versions of its vanilla, caramel and chocolate syrups used in other barista beverages. And, the company will add several “clean” offerings to its bottled beverage line-up, including BluePrint cold-pressed Beet Red and Green juices, Harmless Harvest Coconut Water and bottled Joia Grapefruit Chamomile and Cardamom Soda.

“Our goal is to continue adding new flavors and lifestyle choices in beverage — clean, but evolving with the tastes and seasons,” Mr. Kish said.

Panera will add several “clean” offerings to its bottled beverage line-up, including BluePrint cold-pressed Beet Red and Green juices, Harmless Harvest Coconut Water and bottled Joia Grapefruit Chamomile and Cardamom Soda.

Last year, Panera introduced a “food policy” designed to guide the company’s vision for its menu, and earlier this year published its “No No List” of ingredients that will not be used to formulate its products. Some ingredients on the chain’s No No List include acesulfame K, autolyzed yeast extract, high-fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, microparticulated whey protein concentrate and others.

The company’s goal is to remove the ingredients on the list from the formulation of its menu items by the end of 2016.
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