2016 Trends: Why Frozen Yogurt is a Hit at Corner Stores and Quick-Service Restaurants

If you’ve noticed there are more convenience stores, quick-service restaurants and other establishments selling frozen yogurt than ever before, you’re not alone.

Sales in the spooned yogurt category doubled between 2008 and 2016, largely because of changing tastes in the United States. Statistic Brain points to a study from a team of researchers who quizzed 350 Americans about what their favorite frozen treat is. Nearly 80 percent of respondents said frozen yogurt (11 percent said gelato and the remaining 9 percent said ice cream).

This trend has made companies such as Taylor — the largest soft-serve yogurt machine manufacturer — and Mars and TR Toppers — two of the biggest toppings companies — key suppliers for shops and restaurants around the country.

Frozen yogurt is in demand, and owners of convenience stores and quick-serve restaurants can boost their bottom lines by offering it. Here are 15 reasons why.


People Will Spend More Money on Food if Gas Prices Are Lower

For a while, Americans’ wallets were hurting each time they filled up at the pump. With gas prices at new lows, though, Leon Stafford at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that people can afford more snacks when they venture into a convenience store.

“Made-to-order pizzas, fresh salads and frozen yogurt bars with all the toppings, including Oreo bits and Maraschino cherries, are replacing space formerly held by frozen dinners, DVD rentals and magazine and newspaper racks,” he says.


Flavor Is King

Although it almost goes without saying, make sure you don’t sacrifice flavor for quantity and convenience. Angela Hanson at Convenience Store News writes that while it’s possible to make frozen yogurt with liquid or powder ingredients, the former offers the best flavors.

“Powder product includes no live cultures in the yogurt, is time-consuming to prepare, and can result in inconsistent product depending on staff training,” she says. To underscore the point: Hanson found that up to 94 percent of customers prioritize the yogurt’s flavor above all else.


Choose Natural Ingredients (Farm-to-Table if Possible)

Consumers love natural, even organic ingredients. Commercial frozen dessert machine manufacturer Elvaria writes that going farm-to-table is one way to really appeal to customers who want to know what exactly is in their food. Use flavors, extracts, juices and dairy products from nearby farms, then make sure to publicize this.


The Market Is Competitive, but There is Room For Your Shop

Kevin Hardy at QSR Magazine notes that with so many brands and companies jumping on the froyo trend, customers can feel overwhelmed by the options facing them. However, he also says “while some froyo shops have closed in more saturated markets, the segment doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. New brands and stores are still opening up, especially in small and mid-sized markets.”


Some Markets Will Be More Open to Froyo Than Others

Karen Axelton at AllBusiness examined frozen yogurt’s growing impact and found that California and New York are the best-served markets. She spoke to Nation’s Restaurant News food editor, Bret Thorn, who says “most of the country remains innocent of the newer, tarter wave of frozen yogurt” that Pinkberry made so popular.

Also according to Thorn, “colleges and universities, and communities with health-conscious, trend-focused people…are likely places for frozen yogurt to thrive.”

froyo in a waffle cone


Don’t Underestimate College Students

Speaking of college students, in 2015, when GrubHub researched which type of takeout food was most popular in that age group, it wasn’t pizza or sushi or burgers. Thomas Dowling at USA TODAY College reports that most college students preferred frozen yogurt above anything else.


Let Customers Serve Themselves

Jillian Hillard at Dessert Professional writes that you should not take up too much space in your c-store or restaurant with large frozen yogurt machines. Instead, a traditional self-serve space will be sufficient. Hillard reminds you to keep your froyo stand open all day, too, as some people will want to enjoy the dessert for breakfast, some with their lunch, and some for a post-dinner snack.


Booths with Cash Registers May be the Future

Jana Pijak at TrendHunter has a story about one futuristic frozen yogurt booth, designed by Ayman Yackop. The tall structure features a cash register and screens where customers can see the daily froyo flavors and make their selections, and Pijak notes this design economizes much more space than a typical froyo stand.


Ice Cream Companies Are Embracing Froyo (and Vice-Versa)

As ice creameries adapt to customers’ changing tastes, Jonathan Maze at the Restaurant Finance Monitor says some ice cream brands, such as Jim Sahene’s Bruster’s, are starting to sell froyo at inline stands. Similarly, adding soft serve to your c-store menu can increase your revenue stream.


Overseas Markets Offer Expansion Opportunities

Anthony Valentino at Forbes estimates that by 2019 froyo sales could be in decline in the United States. Consequently, many large frozen yogurt brands are already expanding to the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Russia and elsewhere. Retailers with overseas locations could be poised for extended success with frozen yogurt.

white and orange froyo white background


Yogurt Parfaits Are Big Sellers in Asia

The International Frozen Yogurt Association reports that yogurt parfaits sell well in Asia. These parfaits typically include toppings such as marshmallows, meringues, chocolate, granola, nuts and any other toppings you would offer when serving froyo. Toppings are an easy upsell for c-stores and restaurants selling these parfaits, which makes them a great way to further grow your bottom line.


Frozen Yogurt Overlaps With Consumer Demand for Healthy Treats

Everyone wants to eat healthier, and froyo gives customers that same creamy, sugary flavor ice cream does with fewer calories. Jillian Hillard at PreGel writes that frozen yogurt retailers should consider adding dairy-free sorbets to the mix and including healthy froyo toppings such as fresh fruit, granola and more.


Retailers in Nice Climates: Warm Temperatures Drive Sales

Kaley Zimmerman at Frozen Yogurt Solutions writes that you should generally expect more sales in the spring and summer, and less in the winter and autumn. However, that doesn’t mean you should store away your froyo stand during those slower sales seasons. Some people will eat froyo and cold treats year-round, so keep an eye on your own customers’ behaviors.


iPads Can Be Used as Weighing Machines

Accurately weighing each cup of frozen yogurt is the key to inventory management in this business. Revel Systems points out that some retailers are using iPads and other mobile devices as a means of weighing full froyo cups. As iPads are slim, even c-store employees can find room for them behind the counter.


Keep Tart Froyo on the Menu

Natural frozen yogurt is tart if unflavored, and that’s why the froyo trend of the 1980s ran out of steam: Consumers became attracted to sweeter flavors. But Patrick Anderson at Providence Business News in Rhode Island cautions against the omission of tart flavors. Pinkberry popularized the tart trend, and it’s catching on once again. So, make sure you have something for everyone at your self-serve counter.


images by:
©Rob Hainer/123RF Stock Photo, Asher Isbrucker, Maya83

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