PARIS — Even as the company is looking to expanding the variety of its baked foods to attract customers, Starbucks Corp. also is striving to leverage its size to exact more attractive pricing from bakers in purchasing grain-based foods.

Baked foods were discussed by Rachel Ruggeri, executive vice president and chief financial officer, June 5 at the Deutsche Bank dbAccess Global Consumer Conference in Paris. While emphasizing coffee’s primacy at Starbucks, saying, “Coffee is core to who we are,” Ruggeri described new baked foods intended to “add new variety to food.” She began, though, describing a product already on the menu.

“We have a new blueberry muffin,” she said. “It’s more blueberries, a more elevated muffin. But we’ve leveraged our scale to ensure we maintain pricing and overall cost of factors, which is part of our efficiency efforts.” She noted the company also has added an egg and pesto mozzarella sandwich.

The Deutsche Bank discussion followed by several weeks Starbucks’ announcement that profits and sales were weaker in the company’s first quarter ended March 31. Revenues during the period fell 1%, adjusted for currency swings, and earnings fell 14%. Comparable store sales fell 4%, and operating margins tightened to 51.7% from 54.5%. At the end of the quarter, Starbucks operated 38,951 stores, 16,600 of which are in the United States.

The company’s shares fell sharply in response to the earnings announcement, slumping as low as $71.80 in the days afterward, down 19% from the day before the financial results were released and down 25% from $96.01 at the end of 2023. The company’s shares partially have recovered over the past couple of weeks, climbing recently to the low $80s.

Discussing the company’s challenges, Ruggeri said early action plans Starbucks put in place to shore up its business failed to “materialize in the way we had expected,” adding that the company now appears to be making progress, particularly in the United States.

A principal focus of the effort is the efficiency of stores during the busy morning hours, a time slot Ruggeri said was becoming even busier.

“Almost 50% of our volume comes by 10 a.m., and that’s up a couple points from even a few years ago,” she said. She said optimizing throughput during this period and minimizing wait times for mobile order pay customers are priorities.

Ruggeri elaborated on the effort later in the discussion, describing what the company is calling the Siren Craft System, aimed at streamlining the drink-making process. The effort should result in “step change improvement,” perhaps 10 to 20 seconds, based on the company’s experience in test stores, she said.

“It’s really about how we address just through process, no capital required, but just through process improvements, bottlenecks within the busiest daypart,” she said.

Starbucks employees, called “partners” by Ruggeri, have responded positively to the change, she said.

“It’s a greater experience for the partners, and it’s going to create a better experience for the customer,” she said.

The change will be in place systemwide by the end of the year, Ruggeri said.

In connection with the lower revenues and the challenges associated with consumers becoming more thrifty, Ruggeri said different customer groups appear to view Starbucks differently when it comes to perceived value.

“Our most loyal customers indicate that they get value for what they get,” she said.

More broadly, she said the company is focused on “demonstrating value to our customers,” using marketing and targeted offers to attract and retain customers.

Customization also has a role, Ruggeri said.

Starbucks increasingly is focused on understanding “who you are as a customer, what your tastes and preferences are,” she said.

With that information the company is looking to attract purchases with specific location offers and daypart offers.

“(These offers are done) in a way that we manage our overall margin so that we are creating offers with maybe food and beverage, but in a way that’s accretive to the business,” she said.

The discussion wrapped up with a focus on profit margins and efforts by Starbucks to generate $4 billion in cost savings over the next four years. Ruggeri zeroed in on baked foods as an example of how the company will generate savings by optimizing “sourcing and manufacturing and distribution.”

“The example of sourcing is we’ve looked at some of our bakery offerings,” she said. “And while we’re focused on quality, we leverage our scale to be able to get better pricing. And that’s allowing us to create not only tangible financial benefits, but it’s allowing us to still continue with the quality offering we have.”