As you may know, on August 9th we wrote a blog post about frozen yogurt shops, including Pinkberry. Our intention was to show our readers that some options at Pinkberry (and similar places) were healthier than others and that if customers need to pay close attention to yogurt calories and additional toppings. The next thing we knew we were contacted by Pinkberry’s legal team and we decided to replace the original post with a replacement post Pinkberry Peace Talks in which we invited Pinkberry to speak to us sans lawyers, answer our questions and dispel some of our confusion. This new post was written on August 18th. I was hopeful Pinkberry would be in touch but there was no word when I left for vacation on the 19th.
A week later, I was in our hotel room in France and saw an email on my blackberry entitled “Pinkberry Request” it stated:
I work with Pinkberry and Suzanne Ginestro, Vice President, Brand Management; Pinkberry would like to have a conversation with you at your convenience. She has a written response to your blog, which she would like to go over and answer any questions.
I was happy to hear from Pinkberry but after the previous legal communication I was appropriately nervous. After some schedule negotiating a conference call was slated for September 1st. Prior to the call, we were sent Ms Genertro’s statement. In the first paragraph I was encouraged to read “we are grateful for you for seeking a constructive dialogue and we apologize for the formality of our original notice and agree that in this case, personal contact with you would have been a good route from the onset.” Regardless of any “brand managing” at work, this was very nice to hear.
As for the answers, below you’ll find our questions raised, portions of Pinkberry’s answers and our conclusions.
1. Would you be open to presenting your nutrition facts in a manner that’s easier to understand?
Pinkberry: stated that if they were to list nutritionals for all flavors and sizes on their website it would be quite cumbersome. They also stated that in New York city and in January nationwide, by law, all calories are on the menu. Pinkberry uses the smaller sizes in all marketing and displays information that is “consistent with industry standards.” Pinkberry also said they find that most people order smaller sizes for snacks and the larger sizes for meals or to share with others.
Foodtrainers: as we told Suzanne on the phone, the nutritonals on the website are difficult to follow and compute. Just because confusing serving information is the norm doesn’t mean it works for consumers. We love that Pinkberry chooses to highlight the smaller sizes for marketing but customers should note that what they may choose will be larger or more calories. And if all frozen yogurt customers saw smalls and minis for snacks and larger sizes for sharing, we’d be thrilled. We asked Ms Ginestro if Pinkberry would consider labeling the large a take home container, they were excited to share the news that they were releasing a take home container-which is in fact larger than the large! Hm. Credit to Pinkberry though, throughout our conversation our comments were met with “we don’t disagree” or “we would consider that” and we were never met with defensiveness or indifference.
2. Have you considered flagging lower calorie or healthier options for your customers?
Pinkberry: pointed out that they tend to feature fruit in all of their images and that “well over two thirds of orders are topped with fresh fruit.” Their fruit is hand cut daily. They also have other fun toppings and that they pride themselves on giving customers “a tremendous number of choices which satisfy their needs which change depending on the occasion.”
Foodtrainers: we suggested to Suzanne perhaps having a card or notation for “under 200 calorie options.” The number of choices Pinkberry mentioned makes it difficult not to be tempted, at the register, to add chocolate chips or brownie bites to your yogurt with blackberries. Though yogurt and topping calories are provided adding them all up on the spot isn’t the easiest. Our other comment was that in some ways the small with a fruit topping on the flyers can be very different from what our clients may actually walk out with which was the sentiment of our initial post. We’d love to work with Pinkberry on some “sensible snacks” if they’d like our help.
And finally the swirl size, our question on our post was “can you clarify some swirl size questions”
Pinkberry: explained to us that there’s a “standard procedure on how to swirl yogurt, which includes weighing.” Each size, takes into account the cut and a swirl above it. Ms. Ginestro told us all about the swirling and even told us how “beautiful” the proper swirl was. In the course of the conversation, we sensed Ms. Ginestro’s enthusiasm for her brand.
Foodtrainers: this was a topic I was so happy we received information on. The swirl size, though not uniform upon observation at some local stores is meant to be. Furthermore, the lack of using the scale was a break from procedure and a case of franchise variety. Every store has a scale and any order can be weighed upon request. A mini is 3 ounces and a small is 5 ounces. You definitely need to be careful and ask for your cup to be weighed if you want to know how many calories you are getting and avoid an over-filled cup. When we inquired why they do not indicate how many ounces should be in each cup size and that it would be helpful to indicate this so that customers would know how much each size should weight, Suzanne said they would consider sharing this information. It would be nice to post a reminder similar to “employees must wash hands” something along the lines of “weigh your options, for proper portions all orders should be weighed.”
We finished the conversation with renewed faith in Pinkberry and their effort to provide healthy options. They take their product very seriously and understandably stood by customers having a wide array of interesting, tasty options at their stores. We think Pinkberry is a good choice for many of our nutrition clients, for a treat, provided they have the information to know what they are choosing.