Meet the growing demand for healthy food and drink with these two rapidly expanding franchise opportunities

Running a healthy business is taking on a whole new meaning in 2016. With a growing worldwide demand for healthier food options, the expansion of franchise opportunities specialising in great tasting food that is both delicious and nutritious is taking centre stage.

In a 2015 Nielsen survey of healthy eating trends around the world, consumers responded from more than 60 countries and pointed to a growing desire for fresh, natural, and minimally processed foods. Younger consumers are also willing to pay a premium for healthier foods. And while healthy foods are growing faster than indulgent categories, there is still room in consumers’ diets for the occasional treat. That has laid the foundation for a number of rapidly expanding franchise brands looking to meet demand and drive successful businesses on a global scale.


The frozen yoghurt industry has been one of the fastest and most aggressive segments to fill this new niche. With the emergence and popularity of tart frozen yoghurt, the category has been redefined as a serious hot business that has distanced itself from its ice cream substitute predecessors of an earlier frozen yoghurt era.

One brand taking full advantage of these trends on a growing global scale is Red Mango© – a frozen yoghurt chain, which originated in South Korea, that now includes 379 locations around the world with destinations as far reaching as Tokyo, Moscow, the Philippines, and Doha, Qatar.

Franchised by Red Mango USA , a portfolio brand of BRIX Holdings, the brand has its largest presence in the United States and has become a household name in North America. It’s known for its healthy treats and award-winning frozen yoghurt that contains live and active cultures, is rich in probiotics, and promotes a healthy digestive system.

Timing could not have been better. From 2010-2015, the frozen yoghurt segment grew by 18.2% for some US$2 billion in annual revenue in the United States alone, according to a report from IBISWorld. Locations quickly popped up from neighbourhood stores and malls to airports, sporting venues and college campuses. And the key consumers of this fun and engaging experience likewise influenced the industry’s evolution to self-serve operations in key destinations.

Today, the Red Mango experience includes sit-down restaurants, food courts, kiosks and more. Its flexible formats have taken the brand to the consumer in an array of locations as stand-alone options, side-by-side franchise co-branding locations, store-in-store opportunities, and more.


Meanwhile, Red Mango USA has expanded to offer franchisees a popular café option, expanding dayparts alongside a bigger menu that offers fresh cold-squeezed juices, salads, flatbreads and more. The result is Red Mango Yogurt Café, Smoothie & Juice Bar in the U.S and an attraction to serious multi-unit franchisees with an international appetite for growth that has introduced the U.S-based opportunity to Mexico, El Salvador and Uruguay, among others.

As an example, growth and future potential in Central America and Columbia is incredible, according to Joaquin Palomo, founder and CEO of Nutrisal, the area developer for Red Mango in El Salvador. “Red Mango in El Salvador has been a huge pioneer in offering a delicious and healthy menu of frozen yoghurt, smoothies, juices, flatbreads, wraps and coffee using the highest quality ingredients and carefully crafted flavours to appeal to consumers in this region, coupled with a superb customer experience,” Palomo says. “Consumers in Central America are embracing the importance of living a balanced lifestyle with healthy eating habits and seek Red Mango as their best option!”


Where one worldwide franchise brand evolved to meet a healthier consumer, another was born from an athlete who couldn’t find what he wanted. James Villasana was an Olympic athlete who wanted only the best ingredients in his smoothies to fuel his body. And like many athletes who look for those boosts made with real fruit, instead of artificial syrups or bottled flavours, the absence of a healthy smoothie after workouts was the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey and the launch of Smoothie Factory© in 1996.

Today, Smoothie Factory is expanding the franchise across the U.S under Smoothie Holdings, LLC, another portfolio brand of BRIX Holdings. And it is much more than a smoothie franchise – also offering fresh juices, frozen yoghurt and health supplements all under one roof. Meanwhile, Villasana retained international franchise rights for the chain, and together, across the U.S and abroad, the smoothie business is quenching a very big appetite.

“The Smoothie Factory menu has been well received in international markets as there is universal appeal for health and wellness and the growing recognition of the instrumental role diet plays in a wide range of health conditions, athletic performance, and our general wellbeing,” Villasana says.

Smoothie Factory has expanded from the U.S to include stores in Grand Cayman, Vietnam, China, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Canada. And stores are opening soon in Qatar, UAE, Australia, New Zealand, Republic of Congo, Algeria, Macau, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

So, just how far can the smoothie business go? “The opportunities for rapid growth in China and India alone are tremendous,” Villasana says. “In addition, we plan to expand in all remaining Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries where we currently operate, along with the U.K. and the European Union.”

If that sounds like an Olympic undertaking for Smoothie Factory, Villasana points to understanding local tastes and fitting a healthy menu into the mainstream as keys to the rapid expansion. “We work with each master franchise partner to develop localised smoothie and juice offerings with ingredients that the market is familiar with and enjoys,” he says. “No matter where we operate in the world, guests love our innovative, creative, and delicious smoothies and juices as a way of getting their daily fruit and vegetable intake whether sitting down or on-the-go.”


As delicious and healthy as the menus are for frozen yoghurt and smoothie chains, their fast casual format gets equal credit for fuelling growth. The operations of these locations and the guest experience have proven critical to meeting the active lifestyles of target consumers. And fast casual chains continue to be the fastestgrowing segment for restaurants overall.

According to U.S research firm Technomic, the fast casual segment also conveys a superior experience for consumers that includes: the quality of the food, better ingredients, wholesome food, a perception of freshness, first-rate décor, fair pricing, fast service, friendly employees, flexible offerings and a full view of how food is prepared.

Additionally, in a 2015 report from Euromonitor International about the international opportunity for the fast casual market, positive growth prospects continue: “The long-term opportunity in fast casual lies in the fact that consumers all over the world are changing their habits and shifting towards more flexible, casual, and ingredients-focused dining experiences. That has moved far past being a fad to mega-trend, and it’s not expected to slow down any time soon.”

For brands like Red Mango and Smoothie Factory, this meets a growing desire for transparency between restaurants, the foods they serve, and consumers who want to know more about the foods they eat. As the year ahead continues to pave the way for these franchises, it proves a healthy opportunity for all involved.

Source: Global Franchise Magazine

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