YOKOS – The first yoghurt speciality bar in South Africa
Parisian-born Eric Bedier arrived in South Africa and claims that he simply fell in love with Cape Town. After studying law and managing his own advertising business abroad, he then adapted to his new-found lifestyle in Cape Town by initiating an export clothing brand in partnership with a local designer, intended for European distribution. Entrepreneurship is in his blood and with a strong belief that one should always push their limits, his focus moved towards a product that the South African people would both want and really benefit from. And so Yokos was born.
He discovered the yoghurt bar concept in New York and believed it could be perfectly adapted. Coupled with his passion for sport, health and fitness, it was an obvious choice in concept to launch into the Cape Town market. His twin brother soon followed to assist with product research and to investigate the highly industrialized manufacturing process of yoghurt. They were soon met with the challenge of finding a willing food technologist to manufacture the product as most are employed by mainstream companies that mass produce at lower quality and thus a lower price. This is certainly not what Eric wanted. His vision was to deliver a high quality, locally produced and handmade product and keep his brand healthy and authentic.
We watched as he travelled to yoghurt producing countries and met with specialists in the field so he could borrow from their techniques and produce, sample, improve and build a recipe for his brand. After many voyager miles he eventually found a small scale producer with the skill to produce Yokos. There were numerous trials and errors, especially with a product that is so cold chain sensitive. But went on to successfully launch the creamiest and highest quality low fat and full fat Greek yoghurts the Yokos name is renowned for.
His tenacity continued and since then is has been the first in South Africa to meet the daunting task of creating quality vegan yoghurts made from coconuts and nut varieties. Yes it has been tried before in small batches and the sake of experiementation but Eric wanted retail consistency and to develop his own supply chain. He has managed to do just that with the Yokos yoghurt bar concept, one that also pushes boundaries with uniquely flavoured yoghurt smoothies, breakfast through to dinner yoghurt tubs with toppings, and a selection of various sized retail format tubs for stocking the fridge at home.
Eric’s Lebanese wife Rana has joined the Yokos operation, bringing a wealth of marketing and retail management experience gained in Dubai whilst curating high-end fashion brands in retail. You are still to see a timely rollout of Yokos in sister cities Durban and Johannesburg and you can be guaranteed that there are more yoghurt varieties being developed.