With a larger number of people staying in their homes, food delivery from all angles has boomed. Services like Uber eats have seen increases in traffic, majority-takeout restaurants have been popular, and grocery delivery has become commonplace. This has coincided with multiple grocery and health trends, one of which being the popularity of the Keto diet that has led to a spike in low-carb dieters comparable to the heyday of the Atkins diet. This trend helped give birth to a new product—cauliflower pizza crust.
The rise of cauliflower pizza crust was made possible by a number of seemingly unrelated trends. As previously mentioned, low-carb options have been making a comeback and, plant-based options have become more available and palatable. Meanwhile, the frozen pizza industry has seen a minor revolution with smaller, gourmet brands popping up and offering specialty products like gluten-free and deep dish pizzas, taking market share away from the big players like Digorno. Finally, Covid-19 struck the nation and forced people to eat out less. One of the only outings that many people still make regularly are grocery trips, and the prevalence of grocery delivery allowed even the most at-risk individuals to remain loyal customers.
All of these trends allowed cauliflower pizza crust, one of the most popular products to emerge from the plant-based revolution, to continue its upward trajectory. We all know that when Oprah jumps behind something (she was on the cusp with her own line of cauliflower pizza), it is destined for success. Riding against the frozen pizza trend, however, is a recent decrease in grocery store foot traffic. An analysis by Placer.AI found that after the initial panic buying stage early on in the pandemic, most grocery stores saw a decrease in traffic. Furthermore, if people have been buying more frozen pizzas than ever before, it’s only logical to assume that some people would eventually grow tired of the variety their local grocer has to offer. We certainly are experiencing a pizza boom and total frozen pizza sales in the U.S. for 2020 already total 5.47 billion compared to 4.98 in 2019 and 4.77 in 2018. So if more people are buying pizza, and less people are going to grocery stores, what gives?
Enter the online frozen pizza. Until recently, frozen foods have been left out of the larger shift to ecommerce that many consumers are making. In the last few years, innovative packaging popularized by companies like HelloFresh, and sheer demand have started to change that.
Companies like Panetto Foods are starting to move their specialty pizza businesses online. For the last decade plus Panetto has been a company that supplies restaurants in the Seattle area with pizza dough or specialty gluten-free crusts. They also have a frozen pizza line in local grocery stores. But after the pandemic hit, they started to sell their products online and they also added a cauliflower crust to their repertoire. “The Cauliflower crust and the move to sell online really are related in a way” said Panetto co-owner Bobby Smith. “Our mission has always been to get pizza to people who thought they would never be able to enjoy it. For ten years we’ve been hearing people with celiac disease or gluten sensitives say that they had given up on pizza until they discovered our pies. Selling online and selling cauliflower crusts both help to fulfill that mission. We’re ready get a real gourmet plant-based crust into the hands of people from coast to coast.”
That keyword gourmet has been a subtle underlying factor in the frozen pizza revolution. For as long as I can remember, both health food, and frozen food have carried with them a reputation of poor taste. Recently, companies like Panetto Foods have set out to prove that a frozen pizza can not only taste good and include high quality ingredients, and not only be shipped nationwide, but it can also fit into your restricted diet. Viva la revolution.
– The Panetto Bros