When it comes to the frozen pizza sector, there are a lot of players. However, there’s only one MVP in the gluten-free pizza category—Jane’s Dough Foods. That’s because this Columbus, Ohio, company produces 16 different SKUs of gluten-free offerings, complete with gluten-free toppings and gluten-free certifications, for retail supermarkets, delis, convenience stores, specialty food outlets, colleges and universities, venues, co-packing and private label.
At A Glance
Company Name: Jane’s Dough Foods
HQs: Columbus, Ohio
No. of Employees: 65
No. of SKUs: 29
Products: Frozen pizza and pizza crust.
“One of the largest emerging trends we are seeing currently is the natural/organic category, including gluten-free,” says Eric Drees, marketing coordinator. “Outside of gluten-free, consumers are also asking for higher quality toppings with clean labels. Consumers are becoming more aware of what they are putting into their bodies and have made clean labels a priority.”
Jane’s Dough Foods was established in 2008, but brings more than 50 years of pizza experience as part of the Donatos Pizzeria family. Named after Jane Grote-Abell, the daughter of founder Jim Grote, Jane’s Dough Foods consists of a 45,000-square-foot, USDA-inspected, SQF 2000 Level 2-certified facility that houses both the pizza and toppings lines.
The company’s first brand, Donatos, features five SKUs of 13-inch take-and-bake pizzas, including two gluten-free options, available in Kroger delis across the Midwest.
“These offerings are meant to bring a taste of our restaurants to the convenience of your home,” says Drees.
In January 2013, Jane’s Dough Foods developed the gluten-free Sonoma Flatbreads by Donatos line, consisting of 12-inch pizzas in Uncured Pepperoni, Three Cheese, Margherita and Chicken and Fire Roasted Peppers, and 10 additional SKUs in 10-inch and personal sizes come October. Then, its Fresh Bake by Donatos line, launched in March 2012, brings the company’s restaurant experience to the deli case with five 12-inch pizzas and Italian breadsticks. Finally, Jane’s Dough Foods’ microwaveable pizza line, Fast Break by Donatos, includes Pepperoni, Cheese, Pepperoni & Sausage, Supreme and Breakfast, which helps the company become part of the growing breakfast category. Ideal for convenience stores, colleges and universities and retail supermarkets, “our specialized microwaveable susceptor allows the consumer to walk out the door with a hot and crispy pizza in under two and a half minutes,” adds Drees.
Outside of its pizza offerings, Jane’s Dough Foods makes all the dough for its 153 restaurants and tops pizzas for a variety of Donatos venues, including the Columbus Zoo, Indianapolis Zoo, Ohio State University and more.
“When it comes to gluten-free pizza, it is really all about the crust,” says Drees. “A panel we conducted at the Ohio State University involving consumers that lived a gluten-free lifestyle told us that a quality crust is even more important than price. Gluten-free consumers are very loyal once they find a product they enjoy that doesn’t sacrifice on taste and quality.”
From traditional pizza box to eco-friendly sleeve
In 2012, Jane’s Dough Foods upgraded from the traditional pizza box with what is now its primary packaging—the Eco-sleeve, which received the 2012 TechColumbus Green Innovation of the Year award.
“The change helped us save over 280,000 pounds of corrugated cardboard from potentially entering our landfills each year,” Drees says. “The Eco-sleeve also features a window that allows the consumer to see exactly what they are getting.”
Additionally, all of Jane’s Dough Foods’ products are packaged in modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), “which preserves the quality and freshness of our products as well as provides flexibility to the stores to sell them from either frozen or refrigerated,” adds Drees.
In October, Jane’s Dough Foods will be adding a folding carton machine and a shrink wrapper. And, it’s in the process of signing an agreement to co-pack a gluten-free “bake-in-bag” pizza for a large national company.
“This innovative foodservice product is a technological breakthrough that will allow restaurants, hospitals, venues, schools, etc. to offer gluten-free pizza with no cross contamination,” says Drees. “The product cooks in the packaging to prevent contamination from ovens that are also used to cook gluten-laden products. Jane’s Dough Foods brings everything together under one roof—over 50 years of pizza experience, bakery, toppings line and multiple packaging options. Our relatively small company is approaching world-class in several areas of operation.”
This is just one of the six refrigerated and frozen food processors selected as Refrigerated & Frozen Foods' Processors to Watch in 2015. CLICK HERE to learn more about the other companies.