The Rise of the Frozen Yogurt

Britons may be a lot more aware of our diets and what we eat but that doesn’t mean we have any less of a sweet tooth and with the beautiful English weather this year we have even more reason to enjoy our cold summer treats. Jamie Brown investigates the rise of the frozen yogurt industry.

Frozen yogurt, a crossbreed between the more traditional ice cream dessert and the healthier yogurt products, has become the new way for customers to enjoy their dessert while still being conscious of their health. But is this just another food craze or something that will truly be here for the long-term and worth the investment for possible franchise owners?

To understand where the industry is heading, its important we understand where it came from. The 1980’s saw the first surge of success in the frozen yogurt industry in America. The decade saw yogurt franchises pop up on every corner of every town and mall. After 10 years of yogurt madness, the market finally seemed to have had enough and by the end of the 90’s the sales were dropping. TCBY’s locations quickly swelled to over 3000 before it scaled back its operation to just over 600. However over recent years, we have seen a major revival of the yogurt industry and for this reason we have seen the arrival of the frozen yogurt this side of the atlantic. “We felt nobody in the UK or Europe had created a frozen yogurt brand and the category in America. Hence we felt there was a huge opportunity,” commented founders Daniel and Amanda of yoomoo.

It would seem the recent introduction of frozen yogurts to the UK market is proving a significant threat to the stagnant ice-cream market that has seen revenue fluctuate over the last decade. Ice cream consumption in the UK dropped by 11 per cent since 2007 and, according to Mintel, market research specialists, the demand could fall another nine per cent within the next four years.

While ice cream has a strong footing in the frozen dessert market, it’s clear to see that the rise of frozen yogurt has caused a slight commotion. In addition, Ben & Jerry’s experienced a 6.3 per cent decrease in sales, while sweetFrog Frozen Yogurt had a remarkable 180 per cent increase in sales from 2011 to 2012.

So why is that the Yogurt industry so successful? yoomoo explained why they think it is: “People’s lifestyles have changed and healthier eating is now part of every day life. For example, McDonalds has changed its menu to give healthier options and display calorie counts.” However, according to U.S Yogurt giants Pinkberry, one of the fastest growing global brands, there are more reasons than it just being the healthy option: “Pinkberry offers consumers a one-of-a-kind experience, comprised of distinct products, outstanding service and inspirational design.”

Customers don’t just go in for a healthy frozen yogurt, they are also going in to experience these franchises ‘chill’ store settings. Unlike the ice-cream shops, the yogurt industry environment seems to be more focused on the customer experience. Modern fro-yo stores include Wi-Fi, flat screen televisions, inspirational designs and live musical performances.

Chief Executive of Red Mango, Daniel Kim discuses this point: “We’re trying to create the coffee house environment. We’re creating an ambiance, a point of relaxation, a meeting place.”

It would seem, unlike the ice cream sector, that frozen yogurt franchises are innovative and continuously evolving themselves to appeal to the market - thus appealing to potential franchise owners who want in on this cool opportunity. Chris Brockman, analyst at market research firm Mintel, had some encouraging points to make when he spoke to FoodManufacture.co.uk about the UK yogurt franchise industry: “The US food frozen yogurt market is huge and has really boomed over the last few years. Compared with that, the UK market is fairly embryonic, but I would expect this to change over the next few years.”

Fun, creative and attractively healthy, frozen yogurt franchises are a stimulating option to consider for anyone looking at owning a franchise. Frozen yogurt franchise opportunities represent one of the fastest-growing and most popular categories in the entire dessert industry and franchise world - bar none. It would appear there is no better time to take advantage of this growing opportunity in the UK.