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Frozen yoghurt is the dessert on everyone’s lips at the moment. It seems there’s a new brand opening every week, on every street corner in Australia.
Yet for all the widespread popularity as an alternative to gelato and ice cream, the frozen yoghurt obsession is actually quite a recent phenomenon. And it’s thanks mostly to Carl Harwin.
The founder and CEO of WowCow, Carl was the first to open a frozen yoghurt-branded store in Australia. After moving from America he was surprised frozen yoghurt wasn’t readily available here. Inspired by other successful franchises, and believing his product would be an ideal match for the local health-oriented, outdoor lifestyle, he launched WowCow on Sydney’s northern beaches in 2007.
Then, after opening the flagship store in Darlinghurst in 2009 the concept took off. A year later new brands started appearing. The competition isn’t something that bothers Carl however. “We actually welcome it – there are plenty of customers to go around!” he says. “If anything, they (the competition) are helping us take a bite into the gelato and ice-cream space,” he adds.
While the market is now certainly more competitive, WowCow remains extremely popular with customers thanks to some key differences. The first is the quality of produce. They insist on using only the freshest, finest ingredients - like Belgian chocolate, quality nut paste and fresh seasonal fruit.
Another is that the product is, in many aspects, healthier than ice cream and gelato. There are no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, its low in calories, with added fibre and beneficial cultures, and some options are virtually fat free.
Perhaps the most important difference, thanks to an investment in top technology, is the consistency and high quality flavour of the yoghurt. Customers simply love the light texture of WowCow. “And It’s all about the way the customer feels when they eat it”, Carl says.
WowCow shows no sign of slowing down. Along with plans for coffee and breakfast, and a wider selection of ‘pick up and go’ desserts (like waffles, pancakes and fruit) Carl also aims to open between 10 and 15 stores a year as part of a controlled rollout plan. With expansion into Indonesia, and potentially the Middle East, the Tao of WowCow will only continue to grow.
When they originally launched, WowCow purchased their machinery from a different source. But 12 months ago the writing on the wall became obvious – Moffat’s Carpigiani machines consistently delivered a much better result. Harwin describes Moffat’s Carpigiani EVD equipment as a “perfect match for our product”. It delivers “a creamy texture with less ice, a more rounded flavour and overall, a more rounded product”.
From the first trials with Moffat’s Carpigiani EVD frozen yoghurt machines there is now some 15 units in operation, with more WowCow establishments adopting them over time.
Over the past year, Harwin says he has worked closely with Moffat to make some customisations to the original model. “Collectively, we’ve worked together to improve the results, and it’s been a great relationship”, he says. “After we made the switch, customers actually came in and thanked us for improving the product”, he says.