Frozen Yogurt Sales Heat Up

Copyright 2012. Hearst Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by NewsBank Inc.  

 It’s a flurry of frozen yogurt.

 The tart yet tasty dessert has trickled down from New York City and Boston and businesses are moving into the Capital Region.

 “It’s creamy, it’s fruity, it’s flavorful and — being healthy — it’s a home run,” said Bill Rabbitt, director of operations for TCBY in the Capital Region.

 Frozen yogurt spreads to Troy with the Friday opening of Dante’s Frozen Yogurt at 274 River St.

 “It’s exploding everywhere right now,” said David Fusco, owner of Dante’s, which also has a store in Boston. He said he chose the Collar City because of the three colleges nearby and the support of local government for new businesses.

 Nationally, the frozen yogurt market was estimated to be worth $723 million in 2011 by IBISWorld, a California-based market research publisher.

 Growth is expected to slow as the market becomes saturated, although it’s expected to hit $813 million by 2016.

 Frozen yogurt stores mainly offer self-serve options in which customers pick a container and fill it with as much or as little frozen yogurt as they like, with several flavors and combinations to choose from. They then pick from dozens of toppings ranging from M&Ms to fresh raspberries and granola.

 The dessert is weighed and priced by the ounce.

 Including Dante’s, at least six stores are opening around the area this summer.

 Salt Lake City-based TCBY opened a store in Guilderland in November 2011 and opened another in Latham earlier this year, with plans for two more in Niskayuna and East Greenbush in August and September.

 Plum Dandy has been in Saratoga Springs since June 2010 and owner Philip Levitas said he plans to open a second store in the region this fall. Crossgates Mall has two frozen yogurt stores. Yo D. Sert opened in May, and Yeh! Frozen Yogurt and Cafe, a Montreal-based chain, opened in June.

 Lemondrop Frozen Yogurt set up shop on Wolf Road in Colonie in late June and 16 Handles in Clifton Park opened its doors in March 2011.

 Why is it so popular?

 Frozen yogurt “caters to the health-conscious trend that we’re seeing among consumers,” said Nikoleta Panteva, a senior analyst at IBISWorld. The product generally has low-calorie, low-sugar and non-dairy options and includes probiotics, which can help with digestion and boost the immune system.

 “It has yogurt in it and not ice cream, so there’s a feeling that it’s better for you,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a Chicago-based consulting and research firm. He said the biggest demographic for the market is women from 16 to 34 years old.

 Tristano said frozen yogurt also does well because customers can do everything themselves — dishing it out and piling on their favorite toppings.

 “You pay for what you want to eat, not what you got,” he said.

 John Hadcock owns the Clifton Park 16 Handles with his wife and said they have been doing well. “It’s been very busy,” he said. “When we first opened we had lines to the door every night.”

 He said though the suburban town has “been good” to the store, which is part of a New York City-based franchise, “it’s not New York City. You can’t have one on every corner.”

 Hadcock said it may be a challenge to continue operating with so much competition popping up.

 “Hopefully we’ve done enough to stay,” he said.

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