Healthier Pizzas, Creative Crusts
Pizza manufacturers answer the demand for healthier varieties of consumers’ favorite dinnertime staple by creating all-natural, vegetarian and gluten-free varieties.
Whether served during the big game, as an after-school snack for the kids or as an easy Wednesday night dinner, frozen pizza is a staple in consumers’ everyday lives. Now, pizza manufacturers are finding ways to increase their market share by customizing their products for emerging lifestyle trends.
One major trend is creating a healthier pizza. Consumers are looking for ways to improve their diets without sacrificing taste. “Consumers are looking for something that is healthy, not just pretending to be healthy,” states Anne Zilvitis, vice president of marketing for Naked Pizza.
The Denver, Colo.-based company has moved its popular take-out pizzas to the grocery store frozen foods aisle. The pizzas are created with the company’s specially made Ancestral Blend crust and come in Pepperoni, Cheese, Chicken and Superbiotic, a veggie pizza made with artichokes, red onions, spinach, mushrooms, roasted red bell peppers, garlic and cilantro.
“Naked Pizza is made for the healthy, active pizza lover offering a crust made with probiotics, prebiotics and 10 grains and seeds,” states Zilvitis.
In addition to the enhanced crust, the pizzas also contain 100% premium mozzarella cheese and sauces that aren’t made with added sugar or citric acid, says Zilvitis. The meats and vegetables used contain no preservatives or additives.
Zilvitis boasts that Naked Pizza uses the best ingredients to make its products healthy and delicious. By creating a pizza with few preservatives and natural ingredients, Naked Pizza is able to boast a larger serving size than those found in other frozen pizza brands.
“Naked Pizza is honest with [its] serving sizes and [its] nutritional statements still hold up strong knowing that a true serving is more like one-third of a pizza, instead of one-fourth of a pizza that most competitors use,” adds Zilvitis.
Another company creating a better-for-you pizza is Annie’s, Berkley, Calif. Known for its line of organic products, Annie’s has taken a step into the frozen aisle with its new Organic Rising Crust Pizzas. Each pie is made with 8 g. of whole grains and is topped with certified-organic vegetables and meats.
The family-sized pizzas come in four varieties. The Four Cheese option boasts mozzarella, parmesan, provolone and Romano cheese while the Uncured Pepperoni option offers nitrate-free pepperoni atop a mozzarella and provolone cheese blend.
If you’re craving more meat, the Supreme Pizza includes pepperoni and Italian sausage along with onions and red and green peppers. For vegetarians, the Spinach and Mushroom Pizza offers button and portobello mushrooms mixed with tomatoes and spinach atop a garlic parmesan cream cheese.
Known best for its natural, healthful products, Kashi introduced a four-cheese pizza into its line of All Natural Thin Crust Frozen Pizzas. The new pizza contains provolone, mozzarella, fontina and white cheddar cheeses atop its signature Kashi 7 Whole Grains and Sesame crust with flaxseed. The sauce offers a blend of tomatoes, garlic, onion and carrot juice concentrate. Joining the Basil Pesto, Margherita, Mediterranean, Mushroom Trio and Spinach and Roasted Vegetable options, the Four Cheese pizza is a vegetarian addition consumers will enjoy.
AC LaRocco, New York, a division of Fresh Harvest Products, Inc., entered the organic market with its line of natural and organic pizzas. The Thin Crust line boasts a whole grain and high fiber crust for its Cheese and Garlic, Tomato and Feta and Quattro Formaggio varieties. Also included in the line is Greek Sesame, which contains artichoke hearts, feta cheese, sun-ripened dry tomatoes, Greek oregano, olives, sesame seeds, garlic and onions. The Garden Vegetarian pizza also offers olives and garlic, but adds green and red bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, Spanish onions and fresh tomatoes for a vegetarian blend that all veggie lovers can appreciate.
The company also has an Ultra Thin Crust line made with organic sprouted grain, tomatoes and garlic. The Ultra Thin Crust pizzas come in more exotic varieties like Bruschetta, Style, Old World Veggie and Garlic Chicken Parmesan.
Kids’ and Boomers’ turn
AC LaRocco also offers gluten-free pizzas for its Four Cheese and Veggie Blend options. All of the pizzas have lower sodium, fat and cholesterol and are high in fiber, making a healthier pie that parents can feel good about serving their kids.
Parents with young children aren’t the only segment demanding a better-for-you pizza. Palermo’s Pizza of Milwaukee targets the Baby Boomer generation, noticing that it’s a growing market segment that doesn’t typically purchase frozen pizza products.
“Americans’ use of the category significantly diminishes around the ages of 50 to 55 when children leave the house, and with 76 million Americans aged [over] 55, creating products that will keep these consumers in the category represents a significant opportunity for growth,” states Giaciomo Fallucca, president and CEO. “We have worked very hard to craft innovative new products that meet the ‘Boomer Consumer’s’ desire for rich, bold flavors while providing superior nutritional characteristics.”
In September, the company rolled out four new options to capture the emerging market segment. “On our award-winning Primo Thin line of ultra thin crust frozen pizzas, we added a Sicilian variety that features grandé-style pepperoni, diced Genoa salami and kettle-cooked Italian sausage,” adds Fallucca.
The company also launched a new Spinach, Bacon and Feta variety, a pizza with mozzarella and feta cheeses, spinach and smoked bacon served over a crème fresh sauce. Other options include Garden—a vegetarian pizza made with fire-roasted red and green peppers and onions, black olives, broccoli and Italian spices atop a mozzarella, parmesan and Romano cheese blend—Fajita, Margherita, Cheese Lovers, Special Edition Pepperoni, Greek, Supreme, Italian Sausage, Grilled Chicken Cesar and Ham and Pineapple.
“In addition to delivering rich, full-bodied flavors, these pizzas are appealing in calorie counts that are as low as 260 per serving,” says Fallucca.
Palermo’s introduced new options to its Hand Tossed Style pizza line as well: Philly CheeseSteak, a pizza with seasoned shaved beef, diced onions and green pepper strips atop a creamy cheese sauce and Meat Lovers, which offers a blend of sliced pepperoni, Italian sausage and smoked bacon over a mild tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. The new varieties join other classic options in the established line, including Italian Sausage, Pepperoni, Combination, Cheese, Supreme and Chicken and Bacon Alfredo.
Fire up the grill
As spring approaches, the Boomer Generation may also be interested in firing up their grills to create an easy mid-week meal, not of steak or chicken, but of pizza. Home Run Inn, Woodridge, Ill., encourages its consumers to consider its pizza products for the next family bar-be-que.
“A new marketing trend we’ve been working on is grilling, [and] this year will be our third year encouraging consumers to try Home Run Inn pizza on the grill,” states Gina Bolger, director of marketing. “The summer season is our slower season for frozen pizzas as consumers do not want to turn on their ovens, so we tell them to grill our pizza right next to their burgers and brats.”
The Ultra Thin, Classic and Signature pizzas can all be made on the grill, and the company’s website offers easy-to-follow instructions for grilling with gas or charcoal.
“It’s fun and different and so far consumers have really responded well,” says Bolger.
Pizzas from the Far East
Other kinds of pizzas are also emerging on the market, especially those with an Eastern blend of ingredients. No, not New York—India.
Tandoor Chef, Union, N.J., creates pizzas with a unique blend of ingredients and crusts. The Indian food manufacturer is putting its own spin on the favored Italian pie.
“Tandoor Chef Naan Pizzas were introduced within the past two years to bridge the gap between traditional eaters and Indian food lovers,” states Mike Ryan, vice president of sales and marketing. “For us, Naan Pizza is not only delicious, popular with consumers and innovative, but an important bridge to the Indian cuisine category overall.”
The Naan Pizzas are offered in Cilantro Pesto, Margherita, Spinach and Paneer Cheese and Roasted Eggplant and are served on a hand-stretched, all-natural naan crust fired in a traditional Tandoor oven. All the selections contain no genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or preservatives and are certified vegetarian.
Ryan insists that food have a more gourmet feeling, yet be affordable, and says his company’s naan pizzas meet those needs. The products also promote Indian cuisine and culture amongst consumers.
“By creating more and greater awareness, by making our products easier to purchase and more accessible, by making the category less intimidating, we’ll continue to be successful in the pizza and flatbread category,” Ryan says.
So whether they’re for kids, parents or grandparents, pizza manufacturers are targeting emerging market segments with better-for-you options and bold, unique ingredients.