June 02, 2008 // Franchising.com // - Yogen Früz, a frozen yogurt chain with 1,100 stores in over 20 countries, is launching a bid for a major scoop of the American fro-yo market including the territory of Puerto Rico, with the opening of its first Puerto Rican store on May 24th, 2008, located at Centro Comercial Los Prados (Avenida Boulevard Los Prados Carretera 156 hacia Aguas buenas Caguas, Puerto Rico).
The new Caguas store is one of several locations expected to open across the U.S. this year (including Puerto Rico), introducing Yogen Früz's signature create-your-own yogurt/fruit blends to Puerto Rican consumers.
The menu is anchored by Yogen Früz's "Blend It" — a combination of low-fat, non-fat or no-sugar-added frozen yogurt and any of 16 varieties of flash-frozen fresh fruit mixed in the company's proprietary machines while customers watch — as well as a "Top It" option featuring plain yogurt with a choice of 18 toppings from fruit to granola, carob chips and Cap'n Crunch. Other menu selections include dairy and non-dairy smoothies, fresh fruit cups, and parfait-style breakfast yogurt layered with fresh berries.
The low-fat and non-fat yogurt as well as the dairy smoothies are packed with added probiotic cultures that have been shown to promote a healthy digestive system, improve mineral absorption, fortify the immune system, manage lactose intolerance and even help lower cholesterol. Yogen Früz has more than 17 million live probiotic cultures per gram, compared to as few as 69,000 for other brands, making a healthy snack alternative even healthier.
"New frozen yogurt vendors are sprouting as fast as new mobile phones, but none of them have Yogen Früz's combination of menu variety, probiotic benefits, critical mass and market experience," said Aaron Serruya, who started the company with his brother Michael in 1986. "We're entering the U.S. market with distinct advantages that we believe will allow us to quickly dominate the space."
Yogen Früz opened its first store in Toronto in 1986 when the Serruya brothers were 19 and 20. Aaron had seen frozen yogurt stands in Florida and enlisted Michael in a plan to import the idea to Canada. The siblings approached several U.S. chains for the Canadian franchise rights, but they were turned away because of their age. Undaunted, they pooled their own funds, added money borrowed from their father, invented the Yogen Früz name, and went to work developing their own version of the fro-yo phenomenon.
The first location in a Toronto mall caught on so quickly that they were able to start franchising. The first franchise unit opened a year later in London, Ontario. By 1989, the brothers had 100 stores in Canada. In November 1991, they expanded to Indonesia with their first master franchisee. By the mid 1990s, they were selling master franchise territorial rights in Europe and Latin America.
The U.S. has always been on the Serruyas' road map, but at first American tastebuds weren't ready for what Yogen Früz had to offer. The Yogen Früz product has the distinctive tart undertones of natural yogurt. Twenty years ago, the frozen yogurt that took the U.S. by storm was flavored to mimic ice cream. Today, tastes have changed.
"Over the last four years, natural yogurts like Dannon's Activia have been the fastest-growing food category in U.S. grocery stores. This has familiarized American consumers with tarter yogurts, and that's what today's yogurt stores are delivering," said Aaron Serruya. "The timing is right to build a U.S. presence."