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Starbucks pushes new food items to boost sales

NEW YORK — Starbucks wants coffee fans to think of it as a spot to grab lunch or late afternoon bite — not just a place to get a cup of morning joe.

The Seattle-based chain is looking to increase its US sales by making its food a bigger attraction, particularly in the slower hours. In April, for example, Starbucks launched several new sandwiches and salads.

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Troy Alstead, chief financial officer at Starbucks, said at the Jefferies Global Consumer Conference Tuesday that one out of every three purchases already includes a food item and that food accounts for 19 percent of overall sales. That’s up from the low-teens ‘‘not that many years ago,’’ he said.

And food should account for a greater portion of sales as it rolls out better pastries from recently acquired La Boulange bakery, he said.

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