Starbucks has made a number of moves to leverage its high level of brand recognition through the development of Starbucks-branded retail products in partnership with major players in the processed food sector. The company also recently announced plans to develop a premium line of chocolates for sale in the US in partnership with Hershey.   

Unilever has signed a deal to produce and sell Starbucks ice cream in the US and Canada.

The two companies, which announced the agreement yesterday (15 September), said they would look to grow the "super-premium" Starbucks ice cream brand - first launched in 1996 - and develop a range of new products.

"This relationship will enable us to introduce exciting new products and extend the Starbucks Experience to a larger base of consumers," said Gerry Lopez, president of Starbucks Global Consumer Products, Starbucks Foodservice and Seattle's Best Coffee.

The deal is the second time in a month that Unilever and Starbucks have agree to join forces. The Anglo-Dutch conglomerate, through its Pepsi/Lipton partnership with PepsiCo, will also produce Starbucks's range of Tazo RTD beverages.

Peter Ter Kulve, senior vice president for Unilever's global ice cream business, said the category was "core" to the company's business and generates US$6bn in sales a year.

He added: "Starbucks is recognised around the world for its high-quality coffee and innovative approach to products, and thus Starbucks-branded super-premium ice cream is a perfect complement to our portfolio."