Kraft Foods Group Inc. plans to sell Maxwell House and Gevalia K-cup single-serve coffee pods compatible with Keurig brewing systems, a spokesman said on Thursday, in another blow to Keurig parent Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc.
The pods are not licensed by Keurig or affiliated in any way, Kraft spokesman Basil Maglaris told Reuters. That means that Green Mountain will not receive any royalties from their sale.
The move by Kraft, which also owns the rival Tassimo one-cup brewer, represents the first time a big-name coffee brand skirts Green Mountain in making cups for its market-leading system.
Following news of similar launches by private label brands including Kroger Co., Safeway Inc. and Supervalu Inc., the move by Kraft adds more weight to the argument put forth last year by Greenlight Capital's David Einhorn, who questioned the sustainability of Green Mountain's dominance.
Starbucks Corp. and Dunkin Brands Group Inc.'s Dunkin Donuts also sell cups for Keurig, but they are licensed.
Maglaris said he expects the cups to be on U.S. retail shelves sometime in the next several months.
Green Mountain was not immediately available to comment.
Kraft also manufactures the Tassimo single-serve coffee system. Maglaris could not say whether the Keurig cups would cannibalize sales of Tassimo cups.
Green Mountain shares initially fell as much as 3.4 percent on the news on Thursday, but by midday were up 0.2 percent at $22.12. Kraft shares were down 1.1 percent at $45.81.
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