Retail pizza: Frozen is in, take-out is out
“In fashion, you’re either in or you’re out” is one of the key catch phrases that pepper each episode of Bravo’s “Project Runway.”
The reality TV show, hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum, pits aspiring clothing designers against one another in a series of design challenges that culminate in fashion shows in New York’s Bryant Park. Klum often reminds designers how quickly things change in the fashion world - and in order to stay relevant - a designer has to keep up.
If “Project Runway” featured frozen pizza processors instead of fashion designers, Klum’s point would still fit the bill. While it’s a near certainty that consumers will always buy frozen pizza, preferences and what’s considered in “vogue” will change with the times.
One example cited by industry watchers is consumers’ increasing preference for preparing and eating food at home - rather than at restaurants or ordering in.
“The frozen pizza category actually benefits from the economic downturn as consumers look for more value-priced, at-home solutions for meals and snacks,” says Scott Gamble, senior director, Pizza Category for Schwan’s Consumer Brands North America Inc., Marshall, Minn. Gamble adds that research from NPD Group/CREST Executive, Port Washington, N.Y., indicates that take-out pizza quick serve restaurants (QSRs) are down by 137,289 visits from November 2006 to November 2007.
Add this to the fact that data from Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Chicago, show frozen pizza category dollar sales rose 5.3 percent during the 52-weeks ended Dec. 30 and it’s not hard to tell what’s in fashion.
What are consumers hoping to find in the freezercase?
“The Super Premium and Premium segments are experiencing strongest growth, driven by consumers’ increasing culinary sophistication and diversity of palettes, as well as product innovation,” says Jim Keane, senior director, Snack and Single-Serve for Schwan’s Consumer Brands North America Inc.
Under its premium DiGiorno brand, Kraft recently launched DiGiorno Ultimate Focaccia thick crust pizza. The Northfield, Ill.-based company said the product is made with Italian style herbs and cheeses. Varieties include Four Cheese-Sun Dried Tomato and Basil and Pepperoni-Asiago.
Schwan’s is reaching the premium market with its Red Baron Stone Hearth Pizza. Launched in May, Red Baron Stone Hearth is baked in a “specially designed oven” that recreates the centuries-old technique of baking pizza on stones heated up to 800 degrees F.