Revised and updated December 28, 2020.
Though juices have been around for centuries, and smoothies have been with us since the invention of the blender, specialist businesses serving them have taken off in a big way in the 21st century. As people have sought ways to enjoy the pleasures of novel takeaway food while improving their health, smoothie and juice bars have become widespread, with thousands set up across the USA and beyond.
While most food franchises appeal to the traditional takeaway market, with foods that are high in fat, salt, and carbohydrates, smoothie and juice bars are built on a very different sort of demand and cater to a very different customer base. Their customers are more likely to be seen in a Whole Foods store or a gym than a burger joint. Like any food outlet, they’re offering flavor, novelty, and convenience, but they’re also selling something more – health. Offering a way for customers to consume their way to a healthier life, smoothie and juice bars make it easier to be and feel healthy.
Part of their appeal is that they provide tasty solutions for a range of different wellness goals. There are drinks to support detoxification, energy boosting, immune support, and a host of other goals. Dieticians and gym instructors have recommended them as part of weight loss programs. There are a growing variety of products for all these aims, such as juice shots and the thicker smoothie bowls.
A broadening range of ingredients has added to the menu, incorporating vegetables, herbs, and spices as well as the more common fruits, and with supplements and superfoods playing an increasingly prominent part. Concerns about the sugar content of smoothies has pushed the most health-conscious consumers toward the novel end of the menu, as well as encouraging the growth of cold press juice, which uses different processes to achieve a lower sugar content.
This has added up to a good few years for the US juice and smoothie bar industry, which grew on average by 1.3% per year from 2015 to 2019. With a market size of $3 billion and 77,260 employees in 7,952 businesses, it’s an appealing area to get into. Several of the most prominent juice chains, such as Smoothie King and Jamba, are driven by franchising, allowing independent operators to buy into high visibility brands.
Americans are the biggest consumers of smoothies in the world, due to a society that is at once both consumer driven and increasingly health conscious. A survey of 30,000 consumers showed that 88% of those engaged in health and wellness activities are willing to spend more for nutritional foods and beverages. Unlike many other food franchises, smoothie and juice outlets don’t have to focus on keeping prices down to keep their customers.
One option to ensure a good customer base is for juice and smoothie bars to set up in or near fitness clubs and sports centers. This allows them to target a specific market sector in a way that few other franchises can.
Like all food businesses, juice and smoothie bars initially faced problems during the COVID-19 pandemic. 62% of those who responded to a Goodnature survey reported a drop in sales in late March. But even at that early stage, 17% said that they had seen an increase in sales. While apparently going against wider trends, this reflected the concerns of many consumers.
Health concerns over COVID led some consumers to spend more on health foods. Sales of organic food and drinks rose 25% in the 17 weeks to the end of June, driven by a desire for healthier eating to increase health, boost immune systems, and improve the chances of surviving an infection. This shift benefited some juice and smoothie chains. For example, Clean Juice announced the establishment of nine new outlets in August, while COVID was still raging wildly in many parts of America.
As food providers, juice and smoothie bars were often able to stay open during pandemic restrictions. Like other food providers, they leaned more heavily into takeaway and delivery options to keep business going, while focusing on increased hygiene and communication to make their businesses safe and ensure that customers felt secure.
Despite the impact of COVID and the subsequent economic downturn, the global smoothie market is expected to grow over the next few years, with a projected 7.7% growth by 2027, and stronger growth in the fruit-based part of the market than in dairy products. There’s arguably never been a better time to enter this sector, with vaccinations promising a return to something like business as usual, but with consumers still focused on their health and willing to spend more on it.
The clear market gap between juice and smoothie bars and other eateries has started to erode. Other food providers increasingly offer smoothies among their options, trying to lure people away. But this shift works in both directions, and some smoothie and juice bars have been able to increase their business by offering other foods for healthy eaters on the move. By opening up more options for juice bars, this has the potential to strengthen their expansion during an economic recovery.
The Top Smoothie and Juice Franchises of 2021
1. Orange Julius
Orange Julius was purchased by Dairy Queen (DQ) back in 1987, and as of 2012 its line of products is available in all DQ locations, as well as its many standalone stores typically situated in shopping malls. While the standalone Orange Julius locations continue to operate, entrepreneurs cannot now buy into a standalone Orange Julius location. Instead, you’d have to open a DQ store. Orange Julius products include eight different Orange Julius originals and eight premium fruit smoothies (added to the menu in 2004).
Founded in 1926 by Julius Freed and franchising since 1948, the number of locations is now combined with the number of DQ locations, which currently totals 7,034 (down from the previously reported total of 7,037), of which two are company-owned and 2,679 are located outside the US.
2. Smoothie King
Smoothie King has kept up with changing times, including a growing desire among consumers to be healthier. Not only has the chain removed all gluten, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and NSF banned substances from its ingredients, but it also joined the low-carb craze by recently introducing a line of Keto Champ smoothies. These smoothies feature high-fat, high-protein ingredients such as almond butter, cocoa, and almond milk. Also on the menu are snacks such as nuts, protein muffins and cookies, Greek yogurt, chips, pretzels, and protein bars.
Founded in 1973 by Steve Kuhnau and franchising since 1989, the number of locations has continued growing rapidly in recent years from 564 in 2008 to the current total of 1,194 (up from the previously reported total of 1,073), of which 36 are company-owned and 129 are located outside the US.
3. Tropical Smoothie Café
Tropical Smoothie Café is growing its footprint aggressively with many new locations to serve up its wide array of of classic, superfood, and seasonal smoothies, along with a selection of bowls, wraps, flatbreads, sandwiches, and breakfast items. Fans enjoy customizing their smoothies with ten different supplements and seven add-ins. Offering a more extensive food menu than most smoothie chains is the company’s way of achieving above-average per-ticket sales that drive profitability.
Founded by Eric and Delora Jenrich and David Walker in Tallahassee, Florida in 1997 and franchising since then, the number of locations has risen rapidly in recent years from 266 in 2007 to the current total of 871 (up from the previously reported total of 784), of which only one is company-owned and all are located in the US.
Jamba recently dropped “Juice” from its name because it offers more than just juices. The menu also includes smoothies, bowls, and sandwiches for health-conscious customers. In addition to its 31 signature smoothies, there are 13 signature juices, three juice shots, breakfast sandwiches and wraps, baked goods, and artisan flatbreads.
Jamba is now owned by FOCUS Brands, which is an affiliate of private equity firm Roark Capital Group. Founded in San Luis Obispo, California in 1990, the number of locations currently stands at 869 (up from the previously reported total of 860), of which seven are company-owned and 61 are located outside the US.
5. Booster Juice
Booster Juice did something different from all the other chains that obsess over their seasonal pumpkin spice offerings. Instead, this Canadian chain launched a new smoothie ingredient known as blue algae or Phycocyanin powder. This ingredient offers customers an all-natural algae protein boost with anti-inflammatory properties; it also turns smoothies a bright blue color. The Booster Juice menu features smoothies, juices, shots, bowls, grilled focaccia sandwiches, cold or grilled wraps, Greek yogurt bowls, and baked pastries.
Founded by Dale Wishewan in Sherwood Park, Alberta in 1999 and franchising since 2000, the number of locations according to the website is now “almost 400,” mostly in Canada and a handful of international locations.
Freshii is another Canadian health-focused food chain with a “nutrition-led” menu of salads and wraps, burritos, bowls, soups, frozen yogurt, breakfast items, and a dozen different juices and smoothies. All of its menu items can be customized with a wide selection of toppings and add-ons. The company’s stock has struggled in recent months, having lost much of its value due to a lack of profitability, but the chain continues to grow.
Founded by Matthew Corrin in Toronto, Ontario in 2005 and franchising since 2008, the number of locations is described on the company website as “over 300 locations across 85+ cities in 20 countries.”
7. Nékter Juice Bar
Nékter Juice Bar recently launched an upgraded mobile app for better functionality related to gift cards, online ordering, and third-party delivery options. This coincided with rolling out a new version of its loyalty program designed for faster and easier rewards through loyalty points.
The chain’s menu includes six signature juices, three high-nutrition Fusion Blends, seven smoothies, six different açaí bowls, and two Skoop desserts. It also sells bottled sets of its juices for those who want to experience a juice cleanse lasting 1, 2, 3, or 5 days.
Founded in 2010 and franchising since 2012, the number of locations has grown to 174 (up from the previously reported total of 145), of which 42 are company-owned and all are located in the US.
8. Planet Smoothie
Planet Smoothie specializes in handcrafting smoothies to meet each customer’s taste or nutritional goals. Patrons can go sweet with yogurt blends or high-protein and everything in-between with 31 different add-ins. There are 32 signature smoothies for fast ordering and a steady stream of new and featured offerings, the most recent of which were three different Drag Fruit smoothies.
As of 2015, the chain operates under Kahala Brands, a company with more than 29 restaurant franchise brands, which is itself a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canadian-based MTY Food Group. Founded by Martin Sprock in Atlanta, Georgia in 1995 and franchising since 1998, the number of locations now stands at 144 (up from the previously reported total of 136), of which none are company-owned and all are located in the US.
9. Maui Wowi
Maui Wowi brings a Hawaiian-themed menu of smoothies and coffee to customers looking for a laid-back island attitude. The chain has recently simplified its menu for greater ease of ordering. For smoothies, its tropical smoothies menu includes seven classics and 11 ‘Ohana Blends. On the coffee side of the menu, there are five signature coffee blends and five signature coffee drinks.
There are five different business models from which franchisees can choose, including standalone stores, a Ka’anapali Cart mobile unit, a kiosk, a concession trailer, or a food truck.
Mau Wowi is franchised by Kahala Brands, which owns 29 different restaurant chains and is a subsidiary of Canadian company MTY Food Group. Founded in 1982 by Jeff and Jill Summerhays and franchising since 1997, the number of locations declined from 370 in 2010 to the current total of 128 (down from the previously reported total of 150), of which none are company-owned and all are located in the US.
10. Clean Juice
Clean Juice uses only 100% USDA Certified Organic ingredients in its five Açaí Bowls, three Greenoa Bowls (salads), changing seasonal bowls, eight signature juice blends, six protein smoothies, seven other smoothies, and four Toast dishes. It also sells cold-pressed juices in bottles, bottled cold-pressed shots, and offers a six-bottle juice cleanse regimen using its cold-pressed organic juices. Customers select how long they want their cleanse to last, from one to five days.
Founded by Kat and Landon Eckles in Birkdale Village, North Carolina in 2015 and franchising since 2016, there are currently 96 locations open (up from the previously reported total of 86), of which 13 are company-owned and all are located in the US.
11. Surf City Squeeze
Surf City Squeeze is a surfing-themed chain with a menu featuring six Signature Smoothies, six Pumped Up Smoothies, four Sweet Smoothies, five Iced Chillers, three fresh-squeezed lemonades, and 14 different add-ins to further customize its menu.
Surf City Squeeze is franchised by Kahala Brands, a company with more than 29 restaurant franchise brands, which is itself a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canadian-based MTY Food Group. Founded by Kevin Blackwell in Phoenix, Arizona in 1988 and franchising since 1994, the number of locations has declined in recent years from 141 in 2011 to the last known reported total of 85 in 2018, none of which are company-owned and all of which are located in the US.
12. Robeks Fresh Juices and Smoothies
Robeks Fresh Juices and Smoothies is a chain of health-conscious smoothie and juice shops with a menu featuring 29 different smoothies (four Superfood Smoothies, 10 Classic Smoothies, three Açaí Smoothies, five Performance Smoothies, three Low-Calorie Smoothies, and four Wellness Smoothies). Also on the menu are five fresh juices, five bowls, and three wellness shots, along with eight Enrichments and 10 supplements that can be added to any item ordered.
Franchisees can choose a single, multi-store, or area development option.
Founded by David Robertson in Westchester, California in 1996 and franchising since 2001, the number of locations steadily declined over ten years from 130 in 2010 to the current total of 83 (down from the previously reported total of 84), of which none are company-owned and all are located in the US.
13. Juice It Up!
Juice It Up! is health-conscious chain that presents itself as a wellness-focused lifestyle brand. The menu includes 10 classic smoothies, six specialty smoothies (and any smoothie can be converted into a bowl), 12 fresh-squeezed raw juices/blends/shots, seven bowls, 14 different toppings and boosts, and six different bottled cold-pressed juices and shots.
In 2018, the chain was purchased by private investment group SJB Brands. Founded in Brea, California in 1995 and franchising since 1998, the number of locations has declined in recent years from a high of 103 in 2010 to the current total of 81 (down from the previously reported total of 84), of which one is company-owned and all are located in the US.
14. NrGize Lifestyle Café
NrGize Lifestyle Café caters to health-conscious consumers looking for great smoothies, meal replacement shakes, and custom protein shakes for active lifestyles, including those who are actively training. The menu includes 10 fruit smoothies, 12 “NrGizers” (nutritional supplements) that can be added to any smoothie, nine Mega Smoothies each geared to a specific nutritional goal, five different meal replacement shakes, six different Beneficial Blends (herbs and amino acids in a smoothie), and five different Agave Ice Chillers.
NrGize is franchised by Kahala Brands, a company that owns 29 different restaurant franchise brands. In turn, Kahala is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canadian-based MTY Food Group. Founded in 2006 and franchising since then, the number of locations has declined in recent years from a high of 111 in 2010 to the last known reported total of 79 in 2018, of which none were company-owned and all were located in the US.
15. Vitality Bowls
Vitality Bowls has sold more than 3.5 million açaí bowls since it started, and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. This superfood café offers 14 different signature açaí bowls featuring a thick blend of açaí fruit topped with all kinds of extra add-ins and boosters. Rounding out the menu are 13 signature smoothies, nine signature juices, five grilled panini sandwiches, two salads, and a daily soup option.
Founded by Roy and Tara Gilad in San Ramon, California in 2011 and franchising since 2014, the number of locations has increased rapidly to 77 (up from the previously reported total of 73), of which four are company-owned and all are located in the US.
16. Bananas Smoothies & Frozen Yogurt
Bananas Smoothies & Frozen Yogurt is a chain co-branded with Green Leaf’s Beyond Great Salads. The combined menu offerings include pick-and-mix salads (any of which can be made into a wrap at no extra charge), six signature wraps, two specialty ciabatta sandwiches, five panini sandwiches, nonfat frozen yogurt, 11 signature smoothies, and five signature juices.
The chain is owned and franchised by Villa Restaurants Group (VRG), which owns QSR chains Villa Italian Kitchen and South Philly Cheesesteaks & Fries, as well as nine different individual full-service restaurants. Founded in 1979 and franchising since 1998, the number of locations has declined in recent years from a high of 47 in 2015 to the current total of 36 as listed on the company’s website (up from 33 as previously listed), two of which are located outside the US.
17. I Love Juice Bar
I Love Juice Bar uses ingredients that are plant-based, gluten-free, and organic when possible, always using whole fruits and vegetables and never anything “yucky” or processed. The menu offers 10 signature juice blends, 12 smoothies, 12 shots, and six smoothie bowls along with a couple sandwiches, a seasonal soup of the day, oatmeal, spring rolls, and three food bowls (Kale Quinoa, Nori, and Pad Thai Noodle). The chains also sells three different bottled juice cleanse sets (Essential Cleanse, Core Cleanse, and Juice to Dinner).
Founded by John and Vui Hunt outside of Nashville, Tennessee in 2013 and franchising since 2015, the number of locations currently listed on the company website is 32, which is 18 less than the previous year’s total of 50.
Grabbagreen is a clean-eating healthy food chain with a menu featuring six signature salad bowls, three soups, four breakfast bowls/wraps, seven signature smoothies, eight signature fresh-pressed juices, and three açaí cups. The menu also features eight healthy snack items, four elixirs, three cold-brew coffee beverages, and the Grabbadetox cleanse package of six juices (choosing from 10) and two elixirs (choosing from four) made from 20 pounds of fruits and vegetables. Grabbagreen uses semi-organic, preservative-free, GMO-free ingredients sourced from local farms whenever possible.
Grabbagreen is franchised by Kahala Brands, a company of 29 different restaurant franchises. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canadian-based MTY Food Group. Founded by friends Keely Newman and Kelley Bird in Arizona in 2013 and franchising since 2015, the number of locations had grown to 27 in 2018, but now stands at 21, of which one is company-owned and all are located in the US.
19. Qwench Juice Bar
Qwench Juice Bar is typically co-branded within DRNK coffee + tea with the goal of catering to the ever-growing consumer demand for fresher ingredients, natural tastes and flavors, and highly nutritious superfoods. The menu features five Vintage Blends (smoothies), four Green Blends, four Açaí Blends, six Epic Blends, five Protein Blends, five Açaí Bowls, seven raw juices, and four shots. There are also breakfast bowls and breakfast burritos as well as lunch bowls and lunch burritos. The company uses only raw fruit and vegetable juices that are always squeezed-to-order and never masked with sherbet or frozen yogurts.
Founded in 2013 and franchising since 2015, the company website now lists 20 locations open (all in the US, except for one in Canada), and another eight locations are listed as “coming soon.”
20. Main Squeeze Juice Co.
Main Squeeze Juice Co. is on a mission to make healthy easier. Its nutritionist-designed, superfood-centric menu offers 11 different bottled juices, seven different bottled juice cleanse packages, 12 signature smoothies, four bowls, three bottled Mylks, four bottled juice shots, five frozen coffee beverages, and six different hot coffee and tea beverages.
Founded by Matt Duplichan and Miranda Fontenot in New Orleans in 2016 and franchising since 2017, the number of locations listed on the company website is now 16 (up from the previously listed total of 12), of which eight are in Texas, seven are in Louisiana, and one is in Mississippi.
21. Smoothie Factory
Smoothie Factory offers both fresh and frozen delights in a smoothie bar and nutrition supplement concept. The menu features 25 signature smoothies with 26 different smoothie boosts, 12 different signature juices, and four different Nature’s Energy Shots.
Some locations also offer sports nutrition brand and bulk supplements, snack items, light café style food items (salads, wraps, flatbreads, etc.), and Red Mango Authentic Frozen Yogurt. These various “add-ons” give franchisees flexibility to decide how many different revenue streams they want at their location.
Founded by Olympic athlete James Villasana in 1996 and franchising since 1997, the number of locations has declined in recent years from a high of 47 in 2012 to the current total of 14 as listed on the company website, all in the Dallas-Fort Worth area (down from the previously listed total of 26).
MixStirs calls its smoothie creations “Stirs” instead of smoothies. It offers eight different Classic and Fruit Stirs, eight Protein Power Stirs, eight Vitamin Powered Stirs, four Dessert Stirs, and six different ways to “boost” its Stirs. Also on the menu are seven juices, six açaí bowls, and other food items (breakfast foods, soups, salads, paninis, and wraps).
Founded in 2007 and franchising since then, the number of locations was as high as 23 in 2011, but now there are only nine (up from six in the previous year) listed on the company website, with another nine listed as “coming soon.”
23. Pure Green Juice and Smoothies
Pure Green Juice and Smoothies offers a menu consisting of quick-service cold-pressed juices, smoothies, bowls, oatmeal, and shots, all aimed at helping people achieve optimal nutrition. Right now its wholesale business is on a faster development track than its franchised retail locations.
Founded by Ross Franklin in New York in 2014, the company’s franchising website currently claims eight locations (five in NYC, two in Florida, and one in Chicago).
Deezfruta is a new juice and smoothie chain whose name is a play on words based on the Spanish ¡Disfruta!, which is something you exclaim when you’re enjoying a good meal. The menu features six Classic Smoothies, six Fruit/Seed/Veggie Smoothies, 10 fresh-squeezed juices and juice blends, an açaí bowl, two salads, three sandwiches, and a selection of hot and cold coffee beverages.
Founded by Chef Ramón Garza in Miami, Florida in 2016 and franchising since 2018, there is currently only one company-owned location.
25. Liquid Nutrition
Liquid Nutrition is a Canadian chain that calls itself a “functional beverage company.” It features organic, plant-based, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free smoothies and juices containing nothing pasteurized or refined, although it does filter its water. On the menu are 11 high-protein signature smoothies, and it also sells a range of its own branded products including a Daily Essentials nutritional supplement, Strength protein powder, almond milk, Liquid Sunshine (Chlorophyll with mint), and a line of nine different cold-pressed bottled juices.
Founded by ex-rugby players Matt Hill and James Kane in Montreal, Quebec in 2004 and franchising since 2011, the company website previously listed seven locations, but now the site doesn’t have a location list at all.
An Important Note About Our Methodology
The franchises on this list were ranked according to the number of units in the franchise system. If you are a prospective franchisee searching for franchise opportunities that meet or exceed certain performance benchmarks for sales, profits, and return on investment, please check out this list of America’s Most Lucrative Franchises.