Should We Believe the Hype? Response from the CEO of Yoforia

In response to my post entitled “Don’t Believe the Hype – No Euphoria from Yoforia” about how companies deceive their consumers about the ingredients in their products, I received this letter below from the CEO of Yoforia.

I know this blog is usually about me giving my opinion – but this time I want yours.   Instead of me responding directly to him, I thought your responses would have more impact. This issue is bigger than just me – it’s about ALL OF US being able to trust what companies are telling and selling us.

Please respond in the comments section below.  When you respond – Think about Yoforia’s marketing….

 

 

Letter from Luke Tashie, CEO of Yoforia – Dated, Saturday, January 7th at 12:37pm (Please note: I bolded some items for emphasis)

 

Vani,

 

Thank you for addressing an issue that is equally important to us at Yoforia.  While we do not claim to be perfect, we are on a mission to continue to improve our offerings every day.  We combine our fresh, organic milk and our fresh, organic Stonyfield yogurt with a powder base and flavorings to create our frozen yogurts.  Most of our flavorings are naturally derived (for instance, we use actual bananas for our banana yogurt, a jar of peanut butter for our peanut butter yogurt and pineapple juice for our pineapple yogurt).  However, some flavors are not so easy to create naturally – Taro being one of them.  We have to rely on our suppliers to create a few flavors for us (namely honeydew, taro and our sorbets) and, for the time being, we have to live with a few artificial flavors/colors in those products.  Additionally, we have a trace amount of hydrogenated vegetable fat in our yogurt base that certainly meets the “no hydrogenated fats” label requirements, but we are not satisfied with that.  We have trialed several completely natural formulas to which customers have given poor reviews given the complete removal of these trace fats results in a very “icy” product.  That doesn’t mean we are not continuing to push forward with these efforts and that we will not figure out a solution.

 

Our most popular flavor, cookies & cream, is a perfect example.  We use actual crushed Oreo’s to flavor this product, but are not happy with the bad ingredients found in Oreo’s.   To fix this problem, we have looked for substitute cookies to match the flavor profile and settled on Late July organic cookies.   It has taken nearly a year to finally procure the steady supply of enough product from Late July to be able to make this change – which you should see in our stores shortly.   It takes a tremendous amount of effort for companies like us to offer a perfect product because we face the same difficulties as consumers of sourcing our ingredients.

 

We are sorry for your poor experience and our lack of communication about such an important issue.  We promise that we will continue to make every effort possible to completely rid our products of any unhealthy ingredients – but we are confident that our current product is already the best in the industry when it comes to your concerns.  We will also make a better effort to make our ingredients more readily available and to educate our entire staff about the products.   Consumers certainly have a right to know – and, given our view on the importance of the issue, we are proud to share.

 

If you have further concerns, I would be happy to discuss.

 

Regards,

Luke

Luke Tashie

Chief Executive Officer

Yoforia, LLC

 

__________________________________________________

Did the CEO really just admit to using artificial flavors and colors? 19 of the 26 flavors are non-tart, does that mean the majority their products contain hydrogenated fats in their yogurt base? How can they really believe in a product free of artificial flavors and colors if this is true?

(Fact – If 3% of your daily calories come from hydrogenated fats, you can end up raising your risk of heart disease by a whopping 23%. That means only 60 calorie a day based on a 2000 calorie diet. Trans fats are DEADLY even in a small amount and will easily add up if you go over one serving size.)

Thank you for taking this request seriously and for your participation in advance.  I really believe your response will make an impact.  This could force change on Yoforia’s marketing concepts, becoming more clear and direct in the future. Or who knows, maybe open up some other company’s eyes to getting their act together.  Your response will be powerful.

Much Love To You All -
Food Babe

 

P.S. Use one of the buttons at the top or bottom of this post and “Like” this post if you want to see change!  The more it spreads, the better!
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39 Responses to “Should We Believe the Hype? Response from the CEO of Yoforia”

  1. Ruth

    If it touts itself as organic and free from artificial flavoring that is what it should be. They aren’t the only company that makes both organic and non-organic foods. Each flavor needs to be clearly marked and papers with nutrition labels-including a list of ALL ingredients- need to be available for all customers.
    And really? If it couldn’t be made without artificial flavorings/colorings in the first place it should not have been done. Especially when the consumer is being led to believe that it is all organic.
    Yoforia can say that they never said everything was 100% organic.It’s misleading and they know it. They need to change signs to reflect that not all products are organic.

    Reply
  2. kerry surface

    ridiculous…you either are or you aren’t. it’s not really that hard. what a scam they are playing on us. and to think of all the people that believe it. good for you Food Babe…these big companies need to come clean and tell it like it is. i bet they make some changes…thanks to you. Great work!

    Reply
  3. Krista

    Eating hydrogenated oils certainly does not put a smile on my face so I guess they are “missing the point” And if we “have a right to know” and they are “proud to share”, then why are the ingredients so difficult to find. Obviously they are not proud at all and they should not be. How can someone flat out say no artificial flavors, when there ARE artificial flavors. That offends me in a big way. I am so not smiling right now. Make some changes Yoforia!!

    Reply
  4. eve

    I’m not smiling, but I guess they were laughing, all the way to the bank!
    The sad thing is that he was so impressed by using “actual bananas in the banana”.
    I won’t eat here for the same reason I will not shop at Giaim because they send me a huge plastic paper catalog every month after I bought a few things there. Deception and hypocracy are two of the least desirable qualities.
    Eve

    Reply
  5. Jessica

    Ok, what kills me is that they even thought about using “actual crushed oreo’s” in the first place. People do not realize how terrible oreo’s are for us (hydrogenated oils) and when I first went there I thought it was interesting that they served them, along with chocolate syrup from a bottle, whipped cream in a can, etc. It’s easy for me to walk by those because I know better but the majority of people dont, so I typically see people with their yogurt filled to the top and doused in chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and all sorts of gross candy. And well, this is where Yoforia is making their money to be quite honest. This is why its so important to get out there and educate people, because if people aren’t informed, Yoforia and others will continue to serve this crap. Thanks to you Food Babe for all your efforts in changing this! I was quite shocked that there was hydrogenated oil in the yogurt itself and I won’t be going there moving forward.

    Reply
  6. farmer_liz

    So are the bananas etc also organic? Or is it just organic milk and yoghurt polluted with whatever ingredients they can get hold of and promise they’ll work out the organic thing later? what a joke! No artificial colours and flavours means just that, if you can’t find a natural taro flavour, don’t serve it! Don’t you have any consumer protection laws in the US? They are quite clearly misrepresenting their product and in many other countries this would result in fines at the least.

    Reply
  7. Steven

    It really leads you to wonder why a company like Yoforia wouldn’t already have their ingredients publicly available… Good job on exposing them on that! From the looks of it, at least they’re making some effort in offering a healthier product unlike other places…

    Reply
  8. Diane

    It’s all well and good to be working towards a more nutritious product, but in the meantime the sign in their window is VERY MISLEADING! Too bad it’s not illegal, because a company who is knowingly deceiving the public like this should be held accountable! As it is, all we can do is withhold our $$$ from their store, and continue to educate the public as you are doing, Vani!

    Reply
  9. sarah

    The deceptive marketing practices that Yoforia and MANY other companies employ is disgusting. This is clear when the guys at the helm respond as they have. If they were proud of their ingredients and they stood up to the “truth test” I can guarantee it would be factually available for review and praise. It is obvious that their yogurt is nothing more than the same artifical crap that you find everywhere else, they just happen to spend the extra coin on organic milk perhaps… missing the point.

    Reply
  10. Amber

    I think they are missing the point. I don’t “have” have to live with a few artificial flavors/colors – I can get by just fine without frozen yogurt. If I wanted to eat something that wasn’t good for me, frozen yogurt is about the last thing I’d pick. I go all out with a nice pint of Ben and Jerry’s. If a healthy alternative isn’t healthy then why even bother?

    Reply
  11. Alisia

    Using Stonyfield yogurt and Organic Valley milk is a step in the right direction, and is a nice thing to see in a froyo business. However, they should be completely transparent in what ELSE is in their yogurt, by posting ingredient lists for each yogurt flavor both online and in the store. It may not be their job to educate the masses on what constitutes healthy, ‘natural’, and organic food. But, for a company that says, “the health of our environment is as important as our individual health” (from the Yoforia website) to not be completely open and honest about their products, make this informed consumer doubt the legitimacy of the commitment to a healthy, organic, and environmentally friendly product. And, I would not buy their yogurt as long as it has artificial flavors and hydrogenated fats (no matter how miniscule).

    Reply
  12. Jennifer

    “(Fact – If 3% of your daily calories come from hydrogenated fats, you can end up raising your risk of heart disease by a whopping 23%. That means only 60 calorie a day based on a 2000 calorie diet. Trans fats are DEADLY even in a small amount and will easily add up if you go over one serving size.)”

    Can you provide the source for this fact?

    Reply
  13. Elizabeth

    In addition to all of the concerns/frustrations already expressed, I’d like to add that if a company CEO doesn’t know that plural words do not require an apostrophe, and doesn’t have a single person on his staff who can tell him that, I have problems with the company right there. Hey Luke — it’s Oreos, or better yet Oreo cookies, not Oreo’s.

    Reply
  14. Kelly

    Pretty sure when you go into a restaurant you make a choice on what to eat. I choose to eat the plain, nonflavored, tart yogurt with fruit on top. You see the toppings bar and obviously don’t have a problem steering clear of the marshmallows and fruity pebbles, and I think we can all agree that even in some sort of organic form those are not healthy for you either. Yes, the company should disclose their ingredients but you should take some responsibility in the food you are selecting as well.

    Reply
    • brista (to Kelly)

      It sounds like that is what the blogger was trying to do. In order to make a choice, she had to ask “What’s in the yogurt?” and the answer was difficult to find out, which is the company’s fault.

      Reply
  15. Yoforia

    Hi Vani,

    We would like to share with you a couple of things we have done in response to your feedback:
    1. We are going to clarify that “Organic Milk and Yogurt Taste Better”. While we were not intending to mislead anyone, it sounds like some people may have extrapolated our original signs to think that everything we offer is organic. We clearly label our flavor signs to state that we use organic milk and yogurt, not that the product is 100% organic. However, in order to make things more clear, we have decided to better define the message.
    2. In our mission statement we address our opinion on artificial colors and flavors. We believe that using organic ingredients and avoiding artificial colors/flavors truly creates a better product. Whenever possible, we avoid using artificial colors and flavors. We will better emphasize the “whenever possible” portion of that statement and will continue our efforts to eliminate their usage.

    One thing that needs to be understood is that, while we work hard every day to offer a perfect product, creating a 100% organic offering is not as simple as it sounds. Even a $12bn company like Chipotle cannot source 100% of their products from high quality sources. We, like them, have a goal of doing so one day, but it takes time. Additionally, we seem to be one of the only companies in the frozen yogurt industry that a) cares about what we are selling, and b) is doing anything to improve our product. We are constantly evolving our formula to provide a better product and we work on improving our product daily. This is why we feel your vitriol towards our brand is so misguided. Since I joined the company last year, we have removed several flavors that contain artificial colors or flavors. We have been working on an all-natural formula for over a year that is nearing production. I am frustrated daily by the many obstacles in our way, but we are making progress.

    Additionally, it needs to be made clear that we are a small, locally owned business that truly cares about the product we serve our customers. We do not have the resources of large companies that can force changes from our suppliers overnight or even research every marketing strategy to know that it will be received as intended.

    We have addressed your complaints about the marketing mistakes, but we would like to take it one step further. Therefore, given our common goals and your extensive knowledge and passion about the food industry, we would like to extend an offer for you to come meet with us to help improve our offering. The easy thing to do from a company standpoint would be to ignore the issue, but we actually care about the products we sell and are equally passionate about creating the healthiest offering possible.

    We are a company that wants to do the right thing, so let’s make a real difference together. Let me know what works for you and we’ll make it happen.

    Regards,
    Luke

    Luke Tashie
    Chief Executive Officer
    Yoforia, LLC

    Reply
    • Deena (to Yoforia)

      I am really heartened to see Luke the CEO ‘s response. We (as consumer sheep), our government, and so many of our companies have made trying to eat/source healthy, nourishing food a huge challenge. At least this is one company trying to do the best thing and is willing to admit mistakes and keep progressing. I would love to read a blog by Luke & company detailing this journey to a truly organic fro-yo business. It would probably be eye opening to Americans to see how hard this could be, even though it shouldn’t be!

      Reply
      • Melissa (to Deena)

        I think everyone needs to get off these business owners backs and be PATIENT. This response, as well as the CEOs response was professional, informative, and SHARED THE SAME CONCERN AS WE ALL HAVE. If you don’t like it, don’t go there. There are plenty of patrons that are willing to be patient as this business grows to its full potential. You can knit pick everything down to the air that you breathe, you cant micromanage every. single. thing. They are working on it! That said, we all have high expectations from Yofuria! Please make us proud :)

    • Melissa (to Yoforia)

      I think everyone needs to get off these business owners backs and be PATIENT. This response, as well as the CEOs response was professional, informative, and SHARED THE SAME CONCERN AS WE ALL HAVE. If you don’t like it, don’t go there. There are plenty of patrons that are willing to be patient as this business grows to its full potential. You can knit pick everything down to the air that you breathe, you cant micromanage every. single. thing. They are working on it! That said, we all have high expectations from Yofuria! Please make us proud :)

      Reply
  16. Heather

    I am concerned about the same topics that have already mentioned in the comments and from Vani. One thing that has not been addressed is food allergies. I can’t believe that the store cannot provide a list of ingredients. As a person with multiple food allergies it’s quite difficult to find quality food establishments to visit that can provide adequate disclosure on ingredients. We should all have the right to know what is in the food we choose to purchase. For some of us, it can be life-threatening.

    Reply
  17. RB

    Thank you for the article. I’ve taken my family there before and never really thought about the ingredient list. May be a while before we go back.

    I do commend the management for realizing consumers want a healthy, real food snack.

    Reply
    • Food Babe (to RB)

      Yes – I think the company’s heart is the right place. I’ve met with CEO and believe they are going to make several positive changes to their product in the future. They’ve already changed their marketing…so they are responding to us as the consumer!

      Reply
  18. Simon

    By saying “Organic tastes better” and “food that emphasizes organic ingredients” they have only planted in your head the idea that their product is organic. Consumers, and people in general, see what they want, and smart, slick, marketers know that. They may believe not using artificial flavors and colors makes yogurt better but they never said that is what they do.

    You are awesome for telling people the truth, but don’t crucify a company for outsmarting the common consumer. Tell people they use garbage in their product and be smart enough to know it’s probably junk in the first place. And for God’s sake don’t try to take them to task for something they have never claimed to do. Spend your energy on their hinky marketing practices.

    Reply
  19. Tina

    Just read thru all this- WOW! Go Vani. Thanks for your dedication and for alerting us of this. I hope Yoforia makes positive changes going forward.

    Reply
  20. kaseyleilani

    What bothers me most about this is the same lack of responsibility that you see from the food industry as a whole. For example, here’s what I get out of the comment above from the CEO.

    “While we were not intending to mislead anyone, it sounds like some people may have extrapolated…”–It wasn’t misleading, you misunderstood. Not our fault.
    “Whenever possible, we avoid using artificial colors and flavors.”–Sometimes we can’t help it. Except that they could by just not having those flavors til they got a better alternative figured out.
    “…creating a 100% organic offering is not as simple as it sounds.”–You don’t get how hard it is.
    “This is why we feel your vitriol towards our brand is so misguided.”–You are the wrong one.
    “We do not have the resources of large companies that can force changes from our suppliers overnight or even research every marketing strategy to know that it will be received as intended.”–We need you to buy our brand so we have the resources (money) to make it better. If we don’t have your support (money) how will we improve?

    Maybe I’m just fed up and I have no trust left for the food industry. He said several times that they really do care, and they are working towards a better product. Maybe they really are. The invite to help them change at the end of the comment seems to indicate a true desire to be better. But the other language is just so disheartening to see. It’ll be interesting to see how their actions speak for them in the months ahead.

    Reply
  21. Becky

    I think that it is unfortunate that their advertising was/is misleading. However, people seem to forget that a business actually DOES have to make money in the meantime. My husband and I just bought our first house. We would really like to improve many things on the property, but due to cost we must take it step-by-step. The same understanding needs to be applied to a company, as well. The Oreos and Fruity Pebbles likely bring in a number of consumers for them (little Tommy doesn’t really want to eat green tea flavored yogurt, but he’s all over gummy worms), which allows the company to implement changes over time. Again, their advertising does need to be more clear but it is ultimately up to the individual to discern what goes into their mouths. I don’t mind junk foods being out there, I just want to know what’s available and if I decide to eat a Big Mac instead of the juicy tomato in my garden, that’s my choice–not anyone else’s.

    Reply
    • Melissa (to Becky)

      THANK YOU. What a down to earth response. People don’t seem to understand that patience is the essence of good quality assets.

      Reply
  22. Bonny

    Well, here it is already January of 2013 and the yogurt ingredients still are not readily available to customers. This fact is very frustrating since I am gluten sensitive! I just visited a Yoforia shop in Brookhaven, GA and asked if a couple very specific flavors were gluten free. The store employee stated that all flavors containing dairy products contain gluten. I told him that must be wrong since that would be VERY bad for Yoforia in this day and age. He basically had no idea and had no way to find out – no education on the subject, no reference chart, etc. It’s simple, ingredients should be completely transparent to store mgmt, store employees, and customers. Period.

    There’s still work to be done by Yoforia management!!!

    Reply
  23. Sarah P

    I agree that they are “trying” to make things healthier. Honestly though, if you are going to go “part way” with being organic, why not just DO IT RIGHT and go all the way? IMO the artificial ingredients ruin any work that was put into organic milk etc. So basically, it’s just a junk food shop. Freeze bananas and blend them . It is amazing and simple. Tastes like a banana frosty. And it has nothing artificial in it!!! Or make the mango recipe FoodBabe posted. I don’t think its difficult to make a good dessert/yogurt/snack that is free of crap. If people do not care about cancer/tumor causing ingredients then really its a waste of time to even bother with their opinions…or try to market a “healthy organic yogurt” to them. They want taste and immediate gratification. Ie SUGAR. Anyone that is educated and does care, would line up out the door for something they knew was healthy and not harmful to their body. Let the other ones line up for a McFlurry and Big Mac.

    Reply
  24. Sarah P

    And P.S.– I dont eat at Chipotle! If he had read your article on them, maybe he wouldn’t have used them as an example. They aren’t healthy!!!!!!!!!! 12bn dollar company making America sick. There is a way to source healthy ingredients and do it properly. It may cost a little more and require use of a brain…ie more research, but it can be done. Using preservatives/trans fats/MSG etc has been proven to cause major health issues. IMO not using them is just called integrity.

    Reply
  25. Kay

    At least they seem genuinely sorry and are completely polite, unlike some other companies (cough, cough, Kraft). I completely agree with you, Vani, that I sure don’t want to be eating those ingredients, but if they have been looking into removing them, but got negative feedback, I don’t blame them for looking for business first. But I 100% agree that they are false advertising and that is not OK. Great work again, Vani.

    Reply
  26. Chad

    First of all, if you think Yoforia is unhealthy yogurt you really need to get out more. They are a THOUSAND times better than every other yogurt company out there, the exception being maybe pinkberry (who doesnt even claim to be organic). Their yogurt has a TRACE amount of hydrogenation. Is this really going to hurt you that much if you’re ingesting a responsible portion of yogurt once or twice a week? In order to appreciate yoforia, you really need to read the ingredients in the other frozen yogurt shops. Furthermore, the only reason artificial ingredients exist at all, is because the company simply cannot find natural/organic versions of the flavoring they want: nobody makes it! Is this THEIR fault? Or is it OUR fault as consumers for not creating enough demand? They may not be perfect, but as for nutrition and naturalness, they are light years ahead of all their competitors.

    Reply
  27. Geni

    Here’s an idea for you Mr. CEO, if you can’t get organic ingredients for a particular flavor, don’t sell it. Simple as that. If you’re really committed to organic I think that’s exactly what you would do instead of talking about your supply problems (excuses). I am so glad that people are finally waking up and not just taking what you’re dishing out. Thanks Food Babe for bringing this to everyone’s attention. Keep up the good fight. It won’t be long before everyone gets on board. Heaven help these companies when the masses won’t take their crap any more. That’s a time I’m really looking forward to.

    Reply
  28. edwin

    hi my name is edwin and i always follow you on your website i have a question about yogurt, is the kefir from redwood hill farm good for protein shakes? In my area miami i was able to get raw milk, but the farmer will not have the cows anymore so i’m switching to kefir or yogurt from redwood hill farm which i buy from nutrition ‘smart. thanks!

    Reply
  29. Jenn

    The one thing that gets me about these food companies is THEIR take on MY taste buds. I mean how do they know what MY food should taste like and modify the foods to achieve those flavors. If I want a Taro flavored frozen yogurt, then I would think that I should know what Taro tastes like and not its “enhanced” cousin. If it naturally doesn’t have a bold taste such as a Granny Smith apple, then I would think that as a consumer, I would know and expect that. Therefore, leave the damn food alone and just let natural mean NATURAL!!!

    Reply
  30. meg

    Each separate flavor should list full ingredients by the serving. Period. I love the oreo story. There is some relativity here, as in, when I asked to see a local yogurt companies ingredients ( I told him we were allergic to artificial sweeteners-we are and wanted to see what the sugar was). He took a photo of the container for me. I was aghast, it was a strawberry and it had NO yogurt, not even sure if had real dairy, all artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, NOTHING redeeming. So, at least they are serving YOGURT and MILK without hormones-and trying, after all who expects that Oreo flavored yogurt would be 100% organic? I think its the consumers who get this that are ahead, but even I, an ingredient reader and savvy consumer was SHOCKED when I saw the ingredients at a local yogurt shop. Frankly, you are better off having a pint of ben and jerrys and then taking some probiotics. Period. I think this company is much better than most-but it is the naiveté of most Americans’ that will allow the worse companies to thrive and require this company to compete by offering the flavors that have some bad ingredients.

    Reply
  31. Glers

    Rule Number 1: if it tastes good, it’s bad for you!

    Reply

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