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Starbucks blames menu item shortages on misallocation among stores

Coffee chain says empty cases not related to distributor’s contract negotiations with Teamsters

A sign posted Monday inside a Starbucks at 4558 N. Kedzie Ave.
A sign posted Monday inside a Starbucks at 4558 N. Kedzie Ave.

A shortage of some menu items at Chicago-area Starbucks is due to a misallocation of goods that resulted in some stores being overstocked while others were left bare.

“Some stores in the area had too much while others had too little,” Starbucks spokeswoman Sarah Albanesi said Tuesday. “Store managers are working to balance that supply.”

Pastries and several sandwich items were out of stock Tuesday morning at a Starbucks at Morgan and Randolph streets in the West Loop. Albanesi couldn’t say exactly how many stores were affected.

Albanesi knocked down speculation the situation was caused by a dispute between one of the coffee chain’s food suppliers and the union that delivers products to area Starbucks.

The dispute is between DPI Specialty Foods, which has a distribution center in southwest suburban Hodgkins, and Teamsters Local 710 over the length of a work contract that’s under negotiation.

Union members rejected a seven-month contract a few weeks ago, arguing the timeframe was too short. Previous contracts were multi-year agreements.

Mike McGrath, a spokesman for DPI, also confirmed Tuesday that “any Starbucks shortages are unrelated to the labor dispute.”

And a labor source said drivers with Local 710 are making deliveries as directed.

“I can definitely confirm the reallocation issues were not a result of the DPI situation. The two are not connected,” said Albanesi, the Starbucks spokeswoman.