Beijing — Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee chain, has been criticized in China for charging locals higher prices than in other major markets.
China Central Television(CCTV) claimed Starbucks earned higher profits in China because of its pricing.
Starbucks is the latest foreign company to be criticized in the Chinese media over its pricing policies. Apple and Nestle were called out earlier this year over their prices or customer service.
The U.S.-based Starbucks is expanding rapidly in China, which will overtake Canada as its second-biggest market next year.
The CCTV report said on Sunday that a medium-size latte in Beijing costs 27 yuan (US$4.43), or about one-third more than at a Starbucks in Chicago.
“Starbucks has been able to enjoy high prices in China, mainly because of the blind faith of local consumers in Starbucks and other Western brands,” said Wang Zhendong, director of the Coffee Association of Shanghai, to CCTV.
Starbucks claims its prices are due to higher food and logistical costs in China, according to reports.
The issue became a very popular topic on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, with many users defending Starbucks.
“Those who are saying Starbucks is expensive are probably those who don’t drink much coffee,” said one user. “The prices are competitive and the quality makes people feel safe.”