KUNMING, May 19 (Xinhua) -- Starbucks will continue its expansion in the Chinese mainland market by opening 1,500 new cafes by 2015, said an official from the company on Wednesday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Starbucks cafe in the city of Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan Province.
Starbucks will open two more stores in downtown Kunming, said Wang Jinlong, chairman of the board of Starbucks Greater China.
Wang said that moving into Yunnan is a significant move for the company. Starbucks has cooperated with the provincial government to boost the region's coffee industry, he said.
The Yunnan ribbon-cutting also shows that Starbucks has the confidence to initiate a new round of market expansion in some of China's smaller cities, he said.
Yunnan is China's greatest coffee producer, with over 33,000 hectares of farmland devoted to growing coffee. Yunnan produces 98 percent of China's total coffee output.
Starbucks has been one of Yunnan's biggest customers this year, purchasing nearly 20 times as much coffee from the province than it did in 2007.
Kunming is the 39th city on the Chinese mainland to have a Starbucks branch. Wang said Starbucks has high expectations for the booming Chinese market, as it is the company's largest market outside of the U.S.
Starbucks opened its first branch on the Chinese mainland in Beijing in 1999. There are now 450 Starbucks cafes on the Chinese mainland.