Research Outline

Java Sok disposable cup sales research


To identify the top 10 retailers of iced coffee, hot coffee, and soda based on the number of disposable cups sold for purposes of determining which consumers to target first based on the addressable market size.

Early Findings

Preliminary research indicates there is no directly available list of companies according to the number of disposable cups they sell and no breakdown by hot, cold, or soft drinks. However, some statistics for Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts are available. In addition, there are some data points available that will allow a rough triangulation of some companies' use of disposable cups.
  • About 600 billion disposable (paper and plastic) cups are distributed globally each year.
  • The U.S. accounts for 120 billion disposable coffee cups (paper, plastic, and foam) annually.
  • Starbucks uses disposable cups for 98.6% of its drinks, which accounts for approximately 6 billion cups on a global basis.
  • Dunkin' Donuts uses 1 billion coffee cups per year.
  • In 2016, McDonald's sold 1 billion cups of coffee per year globally, 500 million of which are in the United States.
  • In addition, 5% of McDonald's revenue is from soft drinks.
  • McDonald's 2018 revenue was $21 billion, so approximately $1.05 billion ($21 billion x 0.05) comes from soft drinks and at an average price of $1.26 per drink, this would mean that McDonald's sells approximately 833 million ($1.05 billion / $1.26) soft drinks in disposable cups per year.
  • The top 12 fast food chains (excluding pizza chains) in the U.S. based on sales are the following:
    • McDonald's — (1 billion coffee cups and 833 million soft drink cups per year globally)
    • Starbucks — (6 billion disposable cups for both hot and cold drinks globally)
    • Subway
    • Wendy's
    • Burger King
    • Taco Bell
    • Dunkin' Donuts — (1 billion coffee cups per year globally)
    • Chick Fil A
    • Panera Bread
    • Sonic
    • KFC
    • Chipotle
  • Using triangulation, the estimated number of drinks sold by each company may be calculated in a similar manner as McDonald's drink totals were calculated above.