“One of the things I noticed…was how a majority of the gluten-free food was actually filled with a lot of junk,” she said. “In the beginning, I don’t think there were many boxes that the industry had to check. It didn’t have to taste good, it didn’t have to be good for you, it just had to be gluten-free.”
She said that mainstream enthusiasm for all things gluten-free took the insiders by surprise, with a side benefit of enjoying more product launches in the category. “But while with many of them, the taste improved, I noticed that the nutritional value often did not,” she added. That was a main push for Becker, an established veteran in the communications industry, to start Caulipower, which uses cauliflower as the main ingredient in its frozen pizza crusts.
‘Pizza: Your favorite vegetable’
There are four varieties of the frozen pizza crusts, one plain, and three with toppings: Three-Cheese, Margherita, and Veggie. The products are naturally gluten-free and produced in certified gluten-free facilities, but that’s not the main call-out that Becker wanted her brand to highlight.
“We market it as a great-tasting pizza that’s better-for-you and oh, by the way, it’s gluten-free,” she said. She admitted that her opinion ‘is only worth so much,’ but during taste tests, she’s won the favor of the toughest critics: Kids.
“They love it, and I think that’s what's getting people excited. And one of the things that I love about this product is that there are some products in the market that really try to hide vegetables, try to sneak them in, ‘fool your kids’ type of thing, but we celebrate them!” she said, adding that this is a differentiator in the emerging cauliflower category that tends to use the ‘stealth health’ card.
Because it uses cauliflower instead of wheat, the pizza crust has less sugar and sodium and more fiber than traditional pizza crusts. “In many ways it looks and acts like a regular pizza…I want people to understand that cauliflower can be delicious.”
It’s in the name—room for growth beyond frozen pizza crust
One could guess from the brand’s name that it’s cauliflower that would anchor the brand, not pizza, the frozen aisle, or being gluten-free. “It was the goal to make the cauliflower center-stage. I like the notion of celebrating not only its difference, but also the fact that the vegetable is the star,” she said.
“The reason I started the company is actually different from what the company has evolved to,” she added. “The reason I started it is because the story of my boys and wanting to give them some better-for-you options. What the company has evolved to is that these options are desired by far more than the gluten-free community.”
The product’s footprint is still small. Launched in January 31, 2017, it is available in 30 Whole Foods stores in Southern California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Arizona, as well as Bristol Farms stores, and nationally available via Amazon.
But there definitely is interest in cauliflower, Becker said, citing Bon Appétit magazine naming it 2017’s top-voted trend. “We have several big national retailers that have signed on,” she added.
As the company grows, so would Caulipower's financial contributions to its nonprofit partner OneSun, which creates vegetable gardens at underserved schools. It's all part of Becker's grand plan: “I didn’t just quit my job in corporate America just to [make products], I wanted to make a difference.”