In mid-March 2020, the coffee brand Starbucks announced it would open a bean roasting facility in China, which prompted a spate of memes aimed at a U.S. audience about “creating jobs for China.”
It’s true that Starbucks is investing $130 million to open a coffee bean roasting plant in China, per a company announcement dated March 12, 2020. This will be an expansion of Starbucks’ already-existing presence in China, where the chain has been doing business since 1999. Starbucks already has 4,200 stores in 177 cities in mainland China, with a total of 57,000 employees.
So, while the expansion will indeed create more jobs in China, it’s not as if the company is shipping American jobs overseas. Instead, the new roasting facility is geared toward making beans for coffee drinkers purchasing the beverage locally in Asia. The announcement from Starbucks reads:
Starbucks Coffee Company, the global roaster and retailer of specialty coffee, announced today it will invest approximately $130 million (USD) in China to open a state-of-the-art roasting facility in 2022 as part of its new Coffee Innovation Park (CIP). As Starbucks largest manufacturing investment outside of the U.S. and its first in Asia, the CIP will incorporate a roasting plant, warehouse and distribution center, creating highly-skilled jobs and new career opportunities that will further drive smart and sustainable coffee manufacturing in China. The plant will serve as a key component of the Company’s global roasting network, and the bold infrastructure investment further deepens Starbucks multi-decade commitment to strengthen the specialty coffee industry in China, where it aims to have 6,000 stores by 2022.
China Daily, an English-language, government-run newspaper, reported that the Coffee Innovation Park is slated to be built in Kunshan, a city in China’s eastern Jiangsu province.