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The Seattle Times profiles Pascal Rigo, the founder of the San Francisco-based bakery chain called La Boulange, which he sold to Starbucks last year for $100 million.

Now, Rigo is "charged with transforming the Starbucks pastry case over five years. He has a large budget at his disposal, although the exact size is confidential.

"Rigo, who does not speak so much as he effuses, is excited to be well ahead of schedule and under budget.

He is on track to improve not just the pastries at 8,000 U.S. Starbucks, but also — within two years — their sandwiches, salads and other food." The goal is to improve existing favorites as well as to roll out an array of "new goodies" that will begin rolling out in Seattle next month and will be nationwide within a year or so.

"Good taste is going to be the driver. If you make them pay (too much) for that, I don’t think it works," Rigo says. "It’s not very exciting if it’s just for people who travel and have a lot of money."

Among the innovations that Rigo is said to be bringing to Starbucks' food operations are a fast reaction time, finding ways to eliminate the use of preservatives, and training commercial bakeries to follow Starbucks' recipes in a way that will guarantee the taste on a national level.

Starbucks' food products generates about 19 percent of total company sales, double that of a couple of decades ago, but not where the company wants it to be.
KC's View:
It is all about share of stomach. And I suspect that Starbucks sees pretty much everyone as the competition.