In the summer of 2018, Yellofruit™ finalized its non-dairy, frozen banana dessert flavours, settling on Mango, Strawberry and Chocolate. Just one year later, the product was being sold in more than 600 stores across Canada. A family business owned by married couple Andrew Kinnear and Claire Lysnes, Yellofruit is manufactured in Ontario, Canada. And with 28 different retailers launching the product in one year, including Canadian grocery giants Loblaws and Metro, Yellofruit is the fastest-growing non-dairy dessert brand north of the border.
Why the swift growth? In a category of products that generally focuses on one of three selling features, Yellofruit is a bit of an anomaly. Frozen desserts are usually either delicious and indulgent, low-calorie or non-dairy/vegan. Yellofruit fits all three categories and yet doesn’t quite fit in any. “We set out to create something that’s delicious, scoopable and a healthier dessert choice. And of course, we wanted to make something different than what was already on the market,” says Kinnear.
First, although made with bananas, Yellofruit is creamy like traditional ice cream. Kinnear took a course in ice cream technology to ensure his vegan treat stood up against the indulgent ice creams in the freezer aisle. And while all three flavours are comparable to low-calorie ice creams, Yellofruit’s sugar content isn’t keto-friendly. But, the sugar content has a purpose. Along with pea protein and coconut oil, organic cane sugar is a key part of achieving that creamy, ice cream-like texture. “Without giving too many secrets away,” says Kinnear, “you need to create an emulsion of fat, protein and sugar to form air bubbles that make the dessert creamy.”
Finally, while Yellofruit is plant-based and certified vegan, it’s one of only two banana-based frozen desserts in Canada—and the only one that uses ingredients besides fruit—and has a texture that’s incomparable in the non-dairy category.
Yellofruit’s fun, youthful branding also stand out in the freezer section. The bright colours appeal to parents and children while the Certified Vegan and Peanut-Free symbols attract those with dietary restrictions (whether for allergy or philosophical reasons). Both Kinnear and Lysnes have years of marketing experience and Kinnear had a clear vision for Yellofruit’s branding and cheeky but family-friendly tone. And it’s families who appreciate the that each flavour is named after one of Kinnear and Lynes’s children. There’s Monty’s Favourite Strawberry™, Holly’s Favourite Mango™ and Eddy’s Favourite Chocolate™.
As an extension of the brand’s fun, quirky personality, summer 2019 saw a giant Yellofruit-branded banana car travel across Ontario for photo-ops, sampling and fantastic exposure. “In my 15 years of marketing experience, the banana car was the most successful brand activation I’ve ever been a part of,” says Kinnear. Key performance indicators included tags on social media, including a video by a local Toronto Instagram feed with 1.3 million followers that has received almost 400,000 views, in-person customer engagement and sales.
How did Yellofruit grow so quickly? Besides the clever marketing and superior product, Kinnear and Lysnes simply worked hard. Yellofruit is still a small, family business with only two full-time employees and a small team of freelancers and remote sales representatives. Kinnear travels to the head offices of grocery corporations for sales meetings himself and plans to do the same for the brand’s expansion into the U.S. for the summer of 2020.