The frozen yogurt segment is heating up as both young chains and established players continue to expand.
Red Mango, which debuted its first U.S. store in 2007, recently opened its 100th location in Columbia, Mo., and said it plans to open 100 more units this year. Meanwhile, the 30-year-old TCBY brand said Thursday it had signed a development agreement that calls for the opening of 200 of its new self-serve model.
TCBY said Lone Star Yogurt has signed on as an area developer to grow the self-serve TCBY model throughout Texas, with its first unit scheduled to open this month in Tyler, Texas, where the franchise group is based. Another 24 self-serve TCBY units are scheduled for East Texas, Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston over the next 18 months.
Based in Salt Lake City, the more than 600-unit TCBY chain opened its first new prototype model in July that aimed to bring the brand up to date with a more contemporary design, a new logo, and updated employee uniforms and marketing materials. The biggest change, however, was the self-serve format allowing guests to pile on their own toppings and pay by weight.
Self-serve has become an increasingly popular service style in the yogurt world, made popular by chains such as Yogurtland, Menchie’s and, more recently, Red Mango.
The Dallas-based Red Mango chain said it is celebrating the 100-store milestone by debuting a new nonfat yogurt is flavored with Ghirardelli premium dark chocolate.
The chain is offering special pricing on the dark chocolate flavor for the first 100 customers at all locations on Saturday, Jan. 22. Regular Red Mango locations will offer coupons for a small serving for $1 and a free Red Mango lip balm. Self-serve locations will give away the lip balm and distribute coupons good for any flavor of frozen yogurt with toppings for 10 cents per ounce.
"Like all of our other frozen yogurt and smoothies, our newest dark chocolate yogurt creation offers an indulgent and craveable treat that people can enjoy in an all-natural, healthy and guilt-free way," Dan Kim, Red Mango’s founder and chief concept officer, said in a statement. "Our 100th store in Columbia makes us proud to meet people's desires, and we look forward to adding 100 more stores this year."
As brands like Red Mango and TCBY expand, they face increasing competition from chains like Cold Stone Creamery, which said this week that it would be expanding its frozen yogurt offerings  by incorporating self-serve yogurt bars into existing units.
Other foodservice concepts are exploring frozen yogurt as well, including Jamba Juice, which is testing Whirl’ns Frozen Yogurt in 22 of its smoothie stores in Northern California.