Fro-yo’s competitive market could slow down



By Shelisa Melendez

Over the past few years, the frozen yogurt industry has effectively established itself as a very competitive market.

The sweet treat frozen yogurt, lovingly known as “fro-yo,” first made its presence known in the beginning years of the economic recession and is now responsible for more than 20,000 stores in the country.

The frozen-hit wonder has been especially popular because of its health benefits.

“I love it because it’s so good and doesn’t make me feel guilty after eating it,” journalism senior Nini Edwards said. “And I enjoy all of the fresh toppings.”

When compared to soft serve ice cream, fro-yo offers fewer calories (45 calories or less per ounce) and probiotics, which help with digestion.

Despite fro-yo chains having spread across cities in the country, some fear that the popularity has begun to melt.

According to an IBIS world report, although frozen yogurt revenue grew at a 5.9 percent pace during the past five years, it is forecast to rise just 2.4 percent annually in the next five years.

Local fro-yo store Naticakes has started seeing traffic in the store slow down.

“We’ve seen a decline in the year we’ve been open,” Naticakes store owner Nicole Ernst said. “I think people forget about us … I think Jamba Juice has affected us somewhat.”

Despite the recent decline in customers at Naticakes, Ernst still remains confident in the product.

“We use real yogurt, with live and active cultures and probiotics,” she said. “(Customers) say they can taste a difference in our yogurt … it’s creamier because it’s real yogurt.”

Just a few miles away on Romany Road, fro-yo franchise Orange Leaf tries not to focus on the success of its competitors.

“We take the philosophies of focusing on ourselves and do the best we can do to the best of our ability,” Orange Leaf store manager Rachel Cunningham said.

However, unlike Naticakes, Orange Leaf has an influential supporter in its corner — UK men’s basketball head coach John Calipari.

“He’s an investor … he loves it,” Cunningham said. “He genuinely is passionate about his fro-yo.”

Because of his great passion for the frozen treat, and in the spirit of basketball, Orange Leaf released a new flavor named after Coach Cal last month called “Caliberry.” The personalized flavor is a combination of blueberry and cheesecake flavors swirled together into one.

Does Coach Cal play a role in Orange Leaf’s success? Ernst believes so.

“The name of Orange Leaf definitely draws people,” she said. “He tweets about them all of the time and it stays fresh in (customers’) minds.”

According to a CNBC article, the challenge is retaining fro-yo tasters as repeat buyers.

As warmer weather begins to roll around, customers seek for a cool treat that offers healthier benefits, while the battle for foot traffic still remains.

Looking forward to the summer season, the Naticakes owner and staff hope more customers show support in hopes of keeping the business for seasons to come.