Frozen yogurt industry boom based on health claims, customization

Frozen yogurt industry boom based on health claims, customization

“The young girl reached for the tasting cup and made her way along the wall of Yumilicious, stopping every now and then to sample a bite.

Her eyes sparkled as the cool dollop met her tongue and the flavor exploded on her taste buds.

Then, she walked to grab a cup.

Soon a combination of creamy dulce de leche and vanilla frozen yogurt topped with the a spoonful of crushed Oreos, some strawberries and two scoops of chocolate chips filled the pink cup. She stepped up to pay, and then sat on the orange bench to enjoy her personalized dessert.

Frozen yogurt or froyo has become engrained in society today, remaining a part of our social lives since the mid 2000s and growing in ways which promise it will be around for a while. Froyo stores are exploding internationally, and the mentality of eating healthy has gripped Americans. With its perceived health benefits, fun social setting and ability to personalize one’s dessert, froyo has found its own niche.

In November 2012, contributing writer Adam Stone at the Baltimore Business Journal wrote an article titled “Self-serve frozen yogurt is among the coolest trends in franchising,” which seems to be right on the mark.

Stone spoke to Brian Mooney, the East Coast regional director of operations for TCBY, and Sam Liu, a Red Mango franchise owner, who agree that people are tending to eat healthier, thus frozen yogurt is considered to be a reasonable treat.

According to Dr. Stephen Mooney of Central Internal Medicine in Kentucky certain frozen yogurts do contain fermented bacteria that could possibly have some of the benefits of probiotics.

Perhaps due to the health appeal, there has been a resurgence of froyo stores, after the decline in the frozen yogurt franchise industry in the 1990s, as new franchises began to pop up on nearly every street.

“Despite downward trends in the past, the success of big-name frozen yogurt franchises indicate long term expansion in the future,” wrote in its analysis of the frozen yogurt industry for 2013. “For instance, froyo big shot Red Mango recently raised $12 million and plans on adding 550 locations within the next five years.”

Red Mango announced in February that it would be expanding to Central America, with its first store opening in El Salvador in March of 2013, according to PR Newswire.

But Red Mango is not the only franchise expanding worldwide. Yogurtland and Menchie’s both have stores throughout the U.S. and internationally. Based on the list of locations on Menchie’s website, it is currently developing stores in China, Costa Rica and Saudi Arabia to name a few.

It is clear that the frozen yogurt trend is far from another decline, but in fact is continuing to grow larger and more popular. This time around it has found a space of its own.

So, then, is it the health appeal that keeps people coming back?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 35.7 percent of U.S. adults are obese, despite statistics the mindset of eating healthy is evident.

“I go to froyo cause it’s healthier than ice cream, but still tastes good,” said Lanie Wright, a freshman at SMU, while sitting outside I Heart Yogurt.

Wright is not the only one attracted to frozen yogurt by the idea of it being a healthy dessert.

“Well the reason that I love froyo is that it tastes like dessert, such as ice cream, but it’s healthy,” said freshmen Kelsey McLaughlin. “You feel good when you eat it!”

I Heart Yogurt employee Leonardo Hernandez also considers froyo to be a healthier option.

“It’s better for you than ice cream cause it has specific nutrients, gluten and dairy free options, low and non-fat choices,” said Hernandez. “You try to consume yogurt for the nutrients. Most people come for the health factor.”

Almost every frozen yogurt store lists the nutritional benefits of froyo somewhere in the store.

If you walk into Yogurtland you will see the flavors along the wall and beside each is the nutrition information. Each flavor tells whether there is gluten or dairy in it, if it is low fat or non-fat, if it is sugar-free and what other nutrients it contains.

“Founded by several independent studies, our frozen yogurt is recommended as a good way of getting the newly-increased daily allowance of milk and dairy products,” writes I Heart Yogurt on their website.

Dr. Mooney also said, “Frozen yogurt is generally about half the calories of ice cream. However, that is a generalization as there are regular and low fat yogurts, which are about the same calories but the low fat has less fat, slightly more carbs and more protein.”

When it comes to ice cream and frozen yogurt it becomes a “fat issue.”

“Yogurt is fermented milk and cream is the top, presumably, fatty buttery layer of milk,” said Dr. Mooney. “So generally there is more fat in ice cream.”

So when comparing frozen yogurt to ice cream, there may be more health benefits in froyo, since it does contain some good bacteria and generally has less fat, but as Dr. Mooney said, that is a general overview.

Regardless of how you feel about the health factor of frozen yogurt, chances are you still grab a cup of your favorite flavors every now and then.

“I guess it’s popular because the people like the concept; they can get whatever they like without many restrictions,” said Estrella Torres an employee at Yumilicious in Snider Plaza.

At most frozen yogurt stores you have control of your toppings and flavors, and at many you control the portion as well.

The answer to why froyo is still popular seems to be a combination of the above. It satisfies your sweet tooth, gives you the power to create your dream dessert and appeals to healthy eaters.

Froyo has found a place to stay.

For freshman Lindsey Cianciotta it’s simple: “I love froyo!””

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