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    PG Web Extra: Time, Tastes Driving Frozen Pizza Sales

    Innovations in convenience, flavor, wellness hitting shelves

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ

    What trends are driving sales of frozen pizza in the grocery channel?

    “From watching the big game to a last-minute party, pizza has always been associated with being a food of convenience,” says Ryan James Dee, creative director at San Diego-based experiential marketing firm Interactions. “With our schedules getting increasingly hectic, hyper-convenience is a huge trend we’re seeing in the grocery space.”

    Reports that supermarket pizza programs are giving delivery a run for its money should come as no surprise. “Frozen pizza has the restaurants beat by being truly on-demand, because it’s in your freezer,” Dee asserts.

    A little more than 60 percent of households are frozen pizza consumers amid the $22 billion frozen food category, Packaged Facts reports.

    Another trend driving frozen pizza sales is the demand for unique choices. “Gone are the days where all you could find is a cheese-and-pepperoni pizza in the frozen section,” Dee notes. “Today, grocers are offering up gluten-free, vegan and culinary-inspired [items] featuring ingredients like brie and basil.”

    Better Taste

    While convenience may be thought of as the driving factor in the purchase of frozen foods, quality and healthfulness are of paramount importance, reflecting the recent reformulating and repositioning of leading brands and the growing presence of emerging brands that emphasize these qualities, Packaged Facts reports.

    “Bold and unique flavors, varieties inspired by world cuisines, cleaner labels and healthier nutrition profiles, and products that accommodate special dietary concerns will drive purchases,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts.

    Health trends helped drive development of Caulipower, a frozen pizza with a cauliflower-based crust.

    “The trend that inspired my journey to the frozen aisle is the lack of healthy gluten-free options,” explains Gail Becker, founder and CEO of the Los Angeles-based company. “Due to the fast-growing popularity of the gluten-free category, players jumped in at a rapid rate, as did consumers who chose to eat gluten-free, far more than anyone predicted.

    “The products didn’t necessarily have to be good and didn’t have to be healthy, they just had to be gluten-free,” Becker continues. “I’d like to think that Caulipower is helping to change that. Frozen food doesn’t have to be filled with sodium and sugar to taste good, and neither do gluten-free products.”

    And by offering a plain-crust option, Caulipower paves the way for taste differences within families as well as customization in the home kitchen, which retailers can demonstrate through in-store sampling events.

    “Whether you are a busy working mom like myself with little to no time to prep dinner or a parent of kids with certain dietary needs, it is important to find a solution for all, particularly one that doesn’t require four different options on the table,” Becker says. “With our plain crust, families can have fun experimenting with toppings that are uniquely suited to their dining family’s taste.”

    Balancing Flavor and Favor

    The demand for bolder flavors is being addressed by such brands as Red Baron, which recently launched a Classic Crust Chipotle Chicken pizza. “The strategy for launching Chipotle Chicken is to expand the brand appeal for consumers who want new, bolder and authentic flavors on their pizza,” says Brian Van Otterloo, senior director of pizza marketing for the brand, owned by Marshall, Minn.-based Schwan Food Co.

    Indeed, while premium pizzas are growing the category, retailers are giving less space to mainstream pizza brands that still have relevance with consumers, warns Diane Harper, Schwan's VP of consumer insights and analytics.

    “Shoppers looking for favorite mainstream brands are not finding what they want and are walking away from the aisle without making a purchase,” Harper asserts. “The premium section is overdeveloped in terms of space to sales within the aisle. Retailers can consider giving space to premium and mainstream brands to satisfy shopper needs, price point sensitivity and meal occasion.”

     

    Need more information? Read the main story, "Frozen Pizza Can Be a Meal Solution."

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    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    • About Jim Dudlicek As editorial director of Progressive Grocer, Jim Dudlicek oversees daily operations of the magazine, spearheads its signature features, produces PG’s monthly Trend Alert newsletter on center store issues, moderates its regular webcast series, and writes and comments about a wide range of grocery issues. A food industry journalist since 2002, Jim came to PG in June 2010 after covering the dairy industry for 7½ years, during which time he served as chief editor of Dairy Field and Dairy Foods magazines. A graduate of Marquette University, Jim is fascinated by how truly progressive grocers inspire consumers to enjoy food, transforming the industry from mere merchants into educators that can take the most basic of all necessities and turn it into something profound and life-enhancing.

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