Most people don’t realize that smoothies actually date all the way back to the 1930s when the electric blender was invented. The smoothie market has since grown into one with more than $2 billion in annual sales, and entrepreneurs who want their own slice of that pie have many choices to examine among the 25 best smoothie and juice franchises of 2017/2018.
But smoothies have also evolved over the decades from something often offered in the ice cream parlors of yesteryear into a product that is now clearly targeted at health-conscious consumers. This is why most smoothie chains also feature fresh-squeezed juices and juice blends.
More recently, a spin-off concept has grown in popularity, which can generally be called a smoothie bowl. The main difference is that you can’t slurp a bowl through a straw. It’s much thicker and is eaten more like a soup or a bowl of yogurt and laden with all kinds of nutrition supplements and superfoods.
On the juicing front, a new and popular twist are juice “shots” featuring a wide range of blended ingredients.
Many of the chains on this list are seeing their number of locations declining, possibly due to the number of new entrants in the market in recent years. Here are our picks for the top 25 smoothie and juice franchises of 2017/2018:
1. Orange Julius
Orange Julius is often co-branded with Dairy Queen these days because DQ bought the chain back in 1987. The most common locations for Orange Julius stores have been in shopping malls. The chain offers eight Orange Julius originals and eight premium fruit smoothies (the smoothies were added to the menu in 2004). Founded in 1926 and franchising since 1948, the number of locations has grown to more than 6,000 thanks to being a part of the Dairy Queen brand.
2. Smoothie King
Smoothie King offers a wide range of smoothies, many of which have been created for specific purposes such as getting fit, slimming down, boosting wellness, or just taking a break with a treat. Also on the menu are snacks such as nuts, protein muffins and cookies, Greek yogurt, chips, pretzels, and protein bars. Its “cleaner blending” initiative has removed all gluten, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and NSF banned substances from its ingredients. On the docket is removing all added sugar from its purpose blends and eliminating all artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, added hormones, and GMO fruits and veggies. Founded in 1973 and franchising since 1989, the number of locations has nearly doubled during the past 10 years from 471 in 2007 to the current total of 902, of which 26 are company-owned and 117 are located outside the U.S.
3. Jamba Juice
Jamba Juice presents a core menu of juices, smoothies, and bowls. Its smoothie menu includes Classic Smoothies, Super Blend Smoothies, Whole Food Nutrition Smoothies, All-Fruit Smoothies, Protein Smoothies, Fruit and Veggies Smoothies, Boosted with a Purpose Smoothies, and Creamy Treats Smoothies for a grand total of 31 smoothies. There are also 13 signature juices, four Enegy Bowls, two shots, and 11 ways to boost smoothies. Also on the menu are a selection of baked goods, oatmeal, two artisan flatbreads, two breakfast wraps, and three toasted bistro sandwiches. Founded in 1990, the number of locations stands at nearly 900, of which approximately 70 are company-owned and 65 are located outside the U.S.
4. Tropical Smoothie Café
Tropical Smoothie Café has a large selection of classic, superfood, and seasonal smoothies, along with a wider menu of bowls, wraps, flatbreads, sandwiches, and breakfast items. Ten different supplements and seven add-ons offer patrons ways to customize and enhance their smoothies. The food menu is more extensive than most smoothie chains, which the company sees as a key aspect of its unique business model that results in higher average ticket sales and gross sales. Founded in 1997 and franchising since then, the number of locations has more than doubled over the past 10 years from 244 in 2007 to the current total of 598, one of which is company-owned.
5. Booster Juice
Booster Juice is a Canadian smoothie and juice bar company with a menu featuring 29 signature smoothies, 10 signature juices, four specialty shots, an açaí berry bowl, five grilled focaccia sandwiches, six cold or grilled wraps, three Greek yogurt bowls, and two baked pastries. Recognized as Canada’s largest smoothie and juice chain, the goal from the start has been to offer people food they can feel good about. Founded in 1999 by Dale Wishewan and franchising since 2000, the number of locations has grown to more than 340 in Canada and around the world.
Freshii is a Canadian healthy-food chain featuring six salads and wraps, five signature burritos, six different bowls, three soups, frozen yogurt with eight different toppings, 11 breakfast choices, and 12 different juices and smoothies. Customers also have the option of customizing salads, wraps, bowls, and soups with seven different bases, four different proteins, 19 basic toppings, 16 premium toppings, and 17 dressings and sauces. Founded in 2005 by Matthew Corrin and franchising since 2008, the number of locations has reached nearly 300 in 20 countries.
7. Maui Wowi
Maui Wowi is a chain of Hawaiian-themed coffee and smoothie shops. On the smoothie side of the menu are seven signature house blends, six blends of the day, seven cappuccino smoothies, and limited-time-offering seasonal blends. Also on the menu are various Hawaiian coffee beverages and Diamond brand pre-packaged baked goods. Founded in 1982 by Jeff & Jill Summerhays and franchising since 1997, the number of locations has declined in recent years from 370 in 2010 to the current total of 186, one of which is located outside the U.S. Maui Wowi is owned by Kahala Brands, one of North America’s largest holding companies of fast food restaurant companies. Other franchises in Kahala Brands’ portfolio are Cold Stone Creamery, Blimpie, Pinkberry, and TacoTime, to name a few.
8. Planet Smoothie
Planet Smoothie has a core menu of 31 signature smoothies that can be enhanced with 31 different add-ons. The menu was recently expanded with the introduction of three Smoothie Bowls that are thicker than regular smoothies and are more suitable as a snack or meal. Founded in 1995 and franchising since 1998, the number of locations has declined only slightly over the past 10 years from 129 in 2007 to the current total of 121, one of which is company-owned and one of which is located outside the U.S. In 2015, the chain was purchased by Kahala Brands.
9. Surf City Squeeze
Surf City Squeeze offers a surfing-themed menu featuring 31 signature smoothies (12 fruit smoothies, four low-cal smoothies, six power smoothies, three functional smoothies, and six sweet smoothies), three fresh-squeezed lemonades, and seven strawberry chillers (strawberries and other fruits blended with ice), and three recently-added avocado smoothies. Founded in 1988 and franchising since 1994, the number of locations has declined over the past 10 years from 173 in 2007 to the current total of 91. Surf City Squeeze is owned by Kahala Brands.
10. Juice It Up!
Juice It Up! has a core offering of fresh-squeezed raw juices such as orange, carrot, and apple, and seven signature Functional Raw Juice blends. Also on the menu are Fusions that retain all the fiber of the fruits and veggies used, 16 smoothies that can be enhanced with seven different boosts, and five signature super-fruit bowls. Customers also have the option of converting any smoothie into a bowl. Founded in 1995 and franchising since 1998, the number of locations has declined in recent years from a high of 150 in 2008 to the current total of 90, of which two are company-owned.
11. NrGize Lifestyle Café
NrGize Lifestyle Café provides health-conscious customers with healthy smoothies, meal replacement shakes, and custom protein shakes for active lifestyles. The company’s products keep calories, carbohydrates, fats, and sugars low without sacrificing flavor. The chain positions itself as offering products that work well with people who very actively exercise and train. The menu features 10 fruit smoothies, 10 “NrGizers” (nutritional supplements) that can be added to any smoothie, five different meal replacement shakes, and five different Agave Ice Chillers (agave nectar blended with other fruits and ice). 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 current total of 87. NrGize Lifestyle Café is owned by Kahala Brands.
12. Robeks Fresh Juice and Smoothies
Robeks Fresh Juice and Smoothies presents a menu of 29 signature smoothies in such categories as Classic, Superfood, Acai, Performance, Low-Calorie, and Wellness. 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. The goal is to present items that don’t sacrifice taste in pursuing healthier alternatives. The company offers single, multi-store, and area development options for franchisees. Founded in 1996 and franchising since 2001, the number of locations has declined in recent years from a high of 163 in 2008 to the current total of 84.
13. Nékter Juice Bar
Nékter Juice Bar sells handcrafted juices, smoothies, and acai bowls that are natural, clean, and full of energizing and nutrient-rich ingredients with the philosophy that almost all of the nutrients human bodies need can be found in the juice of raw fruits and vegetables. The company also sells bottled sets of its juices for those who want to experience a juice cleanse lasting one, two, three, or five days. The menu includes eight signature juices along with a “make your own blend” option, eight signature smoothies with a dozen add-on choices, five açaí bowls, and desserts it calls “Skoops,” frozen treats made fresh daily with cashew milk and clean, plant-based ingredients without dairy, soy, refined sugars, artificial flavors, or preservatives. Founded in 2010 and franchising since 2012, the number of locations has grown to 84, of which 46 are company-owned.
14. Bananas Smoothies & Frozen Yogurt
Bananas Smoothies & Frozen Yogurt is the sister company of Green Leaf’s Beyond Great Salads, so the combined offerings include salads and wraps, frozen yogurt, 11 signature smoothies, and five signature juices. The chain is now owned and franchised by Villa Restaurants Group (VRG), which also owns such QSR concepts as Villa Italian Kitchen and South Philly Cheesesteaks & Fries. Founded in the late 1970s and franchising since 1998, there are currently 46 locations, of which 24 are company-owned and four are located outside the U.S.
15. I Love Juice Bar
I Love Juice Bar offers 10 juices, 12 smoothies, 12 shots, and seven bowls along with a couple sandwiches, a seasonal soup of the day, and spring rolls. The company also offers three different packaged juice cleanse options – the Essential Cleanse, the Core Cleanse, and the Juice to Dinner cleanse. It positions itself as being “overwhelmingly plant-based, gluten-free, organic when possible, and always uses 100% whole fruits and vegetables from scratch.” Founded in 2013 by John and Vui Hunt and franchising since 2015, the number of locations currently stands at 45, of which three are company-owned. Another 12 locations are listed on the company website as coming soon.
16. Vitality Bowls
Vitality Bowls is a superfood café concept whose core offering consists of açaí bowls featuring a thick blend of the Amazon’s antioxidant-rich organic açaí berry, topped with organic granola (gluten-free available) and a selection of seasonal, organic superfood ingredients. In addition to its 14 signature açaí bowls, the menu also has 10 signature smoothies, nine signature juices, four grilled panini sandwiches, two salads, and a daily soup option. Founded in 2011 and franchising since 2014, the number of locations has expanded to 38, five of which are company-owned.
Grabbagreen is a clean-eating chain whose menu features 13 signature bowls, three soups, three breakfast collard wraps, four breakfast bowls, 12 signature smoothies, 13 signature fresh-pressed juices, and three açaí cups. Also on the menu are eight health 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. It describes its overall menu as semi-organic and preservative-free, with GMO-free ingredients sourced from local farms whenever possible. Founded in 2013 by two moms looking for healthier food-on-the-go options and franchising since 2015, there are currently 26 locations open, 4 of which are company-owned, and another 8 listed as coming soon.
18. Smoothie Factory
Smoothie Factory is a smoothie bar and nutrition supplement concept with a core offering of 12 signature smoothies and 19 different smoothie boosts for various purposes, 16 different juices and energy shots, and various brand-name or private-label health and nutrition supplements. Franchisees have the option of offering an expanded menu that includes wraps, flatbread sandwiches, and salads, as well as a co-branding option with Red Mango frozen yogurt. 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 23.
Froots is a smoothie, snacks, and wraps chain with a menu featuring 20 different signature smoothies, 15 signature yogurt shakes, 18 grilled wraps and paninis, salads, soups, and a few breakfast food options. Franchisees have the option to open a regular store, a kiosk, or become an Area Director. Founded in 2001 and franchising since 2004, the number of locations has declined in recent years from a high of 52 in 2009 to the current total of 22, with 11 in the U.S. and 11 in other countries.
20. Clean Juice
Clean Juice distinguishes itself from its competitors by offering a menu that is entirely USDA Certified Organic. On the menu are five acai bowls, eight signature juices, six protein smoothies, seven other smoothies, and four “Bites” food items (Oats Bowl, Power Oats Bowl, Avocado Toast, and Almond Toast). It also offers a six-bottle juice cleanse regimen made up of its cold-pressed organic juices. Customers can choose a juice cleanse package that lasts from one to five days. Founded in 2015 and franchising since 2016, there are currently 18 locations open, of which four are company-owned, and another 30 listed as opening in early 2018.
21. Mr. Smoothie & Frozen Yogurt Bar
Mr. Smoothie & Frozen Yogurt Bar offers a menu that includes 41 smoothies and 53 freezes along with three juices and two flavors of frozen yogurt (vanilla and chocolate). Founded in 1996 and franchising since 1998, the number of locations has declined in recent years from 27 in 2004 to the current total of 12.
MixStirs is a smoothie chain, although it calls them “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 acai bowls, and a variety of other food items such as breakfast foods, soups, salads, paninis, and wraps. Founded in 2007 and franchising since then, the number of locations reached as high as 23 in 2011 but now there are only nine, with another nine listed as coming soon.
23. Liquid Nutrition
Liquid Nutrition is a Canadian company featuring organic, plant-based, gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free smoothies and juices. It calls its products functional beverages that contain nothing pasteurized or refined, although it does filter its water. The menu offers 11 high-protein signature smoothies and it also sells a range of its own branded products including 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 in 2004 and franchising since 2011, there are now six locations in Canada and three in the Bahamas.
24. Qwench Juice Bar
Qwench Juice Bar, which is often co-branded within Drnk Coffe + Tea, positions itself as an evolutionary response to growing consumer demand for fresh ingredients, natural tastes and flavors, and highly nutritious superfoods. The menu offers five Vintage Blends (smoothies), four Green Blends, four Açaí Blends, six Epic Blends, five Protein Blends, five açaí bowls, 10 raw juices, and four shots. The chain uses only raw fruit and vegetable juices that are always squeezed-to-order and never masked with sherberts or frozen yogurts. Founded in 2013 and franchising since 2015, there are now seven locations open in and around Los Angeles, two of which are company-owned, and another eight locations listed as coming soon.
25. Kwench Juice Café
Kwench Juice Café presents a menu consisting of 24 fresh, raw juices and juice combinations (including custom blends), 17 fresh fruit and superfood smoothies, three juice shots that can be boosted with a dozen different items, and four açaí bowls. As much as it can, the chain shops locally for fresh and organic ingredients. Founded in 2015 and franchising since then, there are currently only two locations, one in Boston, Mass. and one in Providence, R.I.