Using the power of veggies to reinvent some of America’s favorite comfort foods, CAULIPOWER is leading the cauliflower-crust revolution, helping create a frozen pizza category that didn’t exist just a handful of years ago.
Americans love pizza, according to a CAULIPOWER study. For instance, 98% of Americans surveyed eat pizza, but nearly three-quarters of Americans would eat more of it if it was healthier. But the company hasn’t stopped at pizza: CAULIPOWER produces a number of veggie-first products, including toasts, dips and pasta and brought in $100 million in sales in the last year alone.
CAULIPOWER ranked fourth in Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ 2018 Best New Retail Products contest for what is said to be the first frozen cauliflower crust pizza. The following year, it placed first in Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ 2019 Best New Refrigerated Retail Products contest for its tortillas.
1. How did raising two sons with Celiac disease – and the dietary challenges it presents – inspire you to leave corporate America in 2016 and start CAULIPOWER?
The simple answer is that the established food industry never saw the need for healthier and tastier gluten-free food that wasn’t full of unnecessary fat, salt and sugar. My two sons were diagnosed with Celiac Disease at an early age, so it gave me a good perch from which to watch the industry evolve and, suffice it to say, I didn’t like what I saw.
Frustrated, I left my corporate job and bet everything I had on the idea that the company I created could be the one to help consumers get what they wanted … and, more importantly, what they deserved. CAULIPOWER would not be what it is today if it were not for the millions of consumers who believe in our mission.
2. CAULIPOWER started by transforming frozen pizza and in just five years has expanded to other products including chicken tenders, cauliflower tortillas and pastas, and sweet potato toast, available in over 25,000 stores nationwide. What were some of the growing pains of scaling up from cooking pizza in your kitchen for your family to a company with national distribution?
Truth is, I only made cauliflower crust pizza in my kitchen one time. It took me 90 minutes and my lightbulb moment was that there was no way most people could have the time for this. I left my job in early 2016, and by early 2017, we were on the shelves at Whole Foods. Growing pains were everywhere: scaling production, learning to say no, hiring the right team and finding vendors who were willing to take a bet on a young start-up.
3. CAULIPOWER commissioned a study on America’s healthy eating choices versus their favorite comfort foods and it showed that we generally want to eat better. Discuss some of that research and how it informs new product development at CAULIPOWER?
It is clear from all of our research that people don’t want to choose between taste, health and convenience … and we believe they shouldn’t have to. That desire is what drives us every single day and why we make products that include everyone’s favorite comfort foods - just made tastier, healthier and easier like our pizza, chicken tenders and pasta. At CAULIPOWER, all of our products have to hit on those three pillars or we don’t make them.
Earlier this year, Fast Company named CAULIPOWER one of the top 10 most innovative food companies in the world and that’s an honor we take very seriously. Yes, we have brought a lot of products to market, but we have also left a lot on the cutting room floor. That’s something of which I’m particularly proud. When you’re in the business of innovation, you should never stop trying until you’re able to deliver on all of the promises you made to your consumers.
4. How important are aspects of raw materials sourcing and using “clean” ingredients in CAULIPOWER’s production process?
Sourcing is always important, but particularly so in this resource and supply-chain constrained world in which we are currently living. Fortunately, CAULIPOWER is now in a position to have more purchasing power than we did just a few years ago … and that certainly helps. We not only look for clean ingredients, but we also look to use those ingredients in unique ways that provide some additional nutritional value. In fact, we have a new product coming out soon with precisely that feature.
5. You like to say that CAULIPOWER is a company of “never-been-dones.” What’s ahead for the company in 2022 and beyond?
Our pizzas were a prime example of disrupting a category that hadn’t been innovated for quite some time and the same goes for our chicken tenders and frozen pasta. We are currently working on a few more category busters in areas that are ripe for improvement. CAULIPOWER brings to life the healthy meal hacks that people are already doing. We’re working on a myriad of exciting projects right now and the best part is we’re really just getting started!