An upscale frozen yogurt company that makes almost weekly appearances in celebrity magazines and is referred to as 'Crackberry' among its legions of addicted fans will soon become available in 17 countries around the world.
Since opening its first store in Los Angeles in 2005, Pinkberry, a purveyor of tart, non-fat frozen yogurt, has gained a cult following among Hollywood celebrities, spawning unofficial endorsements from stars like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, and the Beckhams, who are often caught on camera tucking into a cup of the dessert.
It's since expanded into eight countries, most recently opening a location in Moscow last month, a third location in Peru and a fourth unit in Kuwait, reports restaurant industry website Nation's Restaurant News (NRN).
Pinkberry has distinguished itself for its signature tartness, airy texture and for being guilt-free. With less sugar than traditional frozen desserts, a mini cup, or 100 gram (3.5 ounces) serving clocks in at just 100 calories and 0 fat.
In the next seven months, the company expects to add 30 locations worldwide in countries like Canada, Turkey, the Philippines, Morocco, and more nations in the Middle East, where the brand has become firmly entrenched. Kuwait stores, for example, sell the most frozen yogurt on average per unit of any Pinkberry location, reports NRN.
Though the menus are standard worldwide, there are regional variations such as date toppings in the Middle East.
It's been a meteoric rise for the frozen yogurt company, and one that hasn't been without controversy. The popularity of the first store, located in a sleepy, affluent Los Angeles neighborhood, drew so much traffic and double-parked cars, traffic enforcement officers had to be called in.
The product drew fire for failing to meet the nutritional requirements of yogurt and has also been accused of ripping off a similar brand in Korea, Iceberry, which opened in 1999. The co-founders are Korean Americans.
The growing fro-yo wars, dominated by Korean American entrepreneurs, also include Red Mango which opened its first US store in 2007, and originated in Korea. Canadian brand Yogen Fruz is also a major player, with 1,200 locations in 25 countries.
Meanwhile, in addition to expanding globally, Pinkberry will expand into six more US states and will add outlets at another 10 airports. Currently, Pinkberry has stores at the Los Angeles and San Francisco airports.
Much of the chain's global expansion plans are being propped by the front man of another multinational brand and unlikely ally, Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz who serves on the company's board of directors.