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Is Yogurtland a frozen-yogurt anomaly?

Despite headwinds in the frozen yogurt sector, the chain’s president believes its labor-light model and supply chain strategy give the brand some advantages.
Frozen yogurt
Yogurtland aims to double its unit count within the next five years. / Photo courtesy of Yogurtland.

In spite of the cold weather ahead, Sam Yoon sees a warm outlook for frozen yogurt chain Yogurtland.

Yoon, president of the brand, says he believes there’s growth in the concept’s future. In fact, the California-based chain aims to double its unit count within the next five years.

But right now, its focus is on strategizing.

To help differentiate itself in the market, Yogurtland is working on a new store design and plans to test a slate of new products, including acai bowls, shakes and smoothies, though Yoon did not disclose when these new products or design will launch.

“We are now formulating a strategy for how we will move on from our current store concept into the next store concept,” he said.

Additionally, Yoon said the simplicity of the operation gives Yogurtland a leg up in the industry.

The chain requires minimal labor, as customers dispense their own yogurt, and it also utilizes its own dairy supply. These aspects, he believes, make the concept resilient to current challenges plaguing restaurants, such as labor and sourcing.

“One of the big issues that all of the restaurant industry has faced was availability of cheap products, and although we did face difficulties of getting the ingredients into our dairies, we still had the advantage of having our own dairy,” he said.

Speedbumps in the fro-yo space

The frozen yogurt sector has faced its share of challenges, with many chains seeing sales and unit counts decrease in recent years. Yogurtland saw minimal growth in 2021 with a 5.4% increase in sales, according to Restaurant Business’ sister company Technomic. Additionally, the chain’s unit count decreased by 5.5%, to 224, in that year.

Yoon maintains, however, that the business is looking up. As of this year, the chain has more than 230 units across the U.S., with plans to expand in Arizona, Texas and Florida, according to a statement.

Additionally, Yoon said that sales are also looking up.

“If you compare versus 2021, we are more than 30% up. And then versus 2019, we are more than 20% up,” he said. “Across the U.S, we’re looking at between 20-30% increase in foot traffic.”

Yoon says demand for frozen yogurt itself is still strong, noting that he sees four major trends in the restaurant industry—flavor, experience, customization and health—all of which align with his brand’s strengths.

“As you look into the future, the immediate future, our expectation is that there will be a winter that’s coming, so there will be a macro situation and a situation where we really need to work toward overcoming our challenges, which we will do,” he said. “And then, after the coming winter, we will be ready for an inflection point.”

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