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Taiwan's Yi Fang Fruit Tea making forays into US, Europe, Middle East

Fruit tea a selling point amid surging wellness awareness around the world

(Facebook, Yi Fang Tea photo)

(Facebook, Yi Fang Tea photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese franchise Yi Fang Fruit Tea (一芳水果茶) is expanding its presence worldwide despite the toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on the global food and beverage industry.

Originating in Taichung, Yi Fang is best known for its fruit-based drinks, a distinct feature that makes it stand out in a competitive market built around the country’s bubble milk tea. While COVID-19 has stalled the chain's plans for expansion, the company is riding the “healthy drinks” wave as public awareness about wellness increases, wrote UDN.

According to founder Ko Tzu-kai (柯梓凱), the tea franchise's signature fruit tea is taking Northern California by storm thanks to its health-conscious residents. The drinks priced at between US$6.29 (NT$185) and US$6.63 a cup, the region's Yi Fang shops bring in sales totaling up to NT$4 million a month.

Yi Fang currently has 171 overseas branches, including in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Japan, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, and New Zealand. More stores are expected to open in the second half of the year in Paris, Sweden, and Dubai.

Yi Fang raked in more than NT$2 billion in revenue in 2019 and is set to see 20 percent growth this year, the company said.

The franchise was dealt a heavy blow last summer after it publicly supported China’s “one country, two systems” formula and denounced labor strikes in Hong Kong amid that city's ongoing pro-democracy protests. The statement sparked a boycott in Taiwan, leading to plunging sales and the closure of more than 30 shops.