"What we see in frozen pizza is that consumers are looking for these sort of savory and satisfying flavor profiles that they grew up with. But they want to do it in a way that feels good, and so we feel like we occupy this great market position where we can bring them a plant-based version of a really popular flavor profile and also do it in an allergen-free way.”
Consumers trade down from take-out, still demand savory tastes
Daiya released the BBQ Plant-based Chick'n Style Thin Crust Pizza and Plant-Based Chick'n, Smoked Bac'n, & Ranch Style Flatbreads at Walmarts and Stop and Shops nationwide.
The new pizzas also come when many consumers are trading down from their favorite pizzerias to frozen options to save money due to inflation and other economic pressures. Vericast research found that 64% of consumers say the rising prices are making dining out expensive, and 45% said they will cut back on restaurant spending.
“The frame of reference for a shopper is: I could buy a pizza in the freezer or I could go order takeout at home. And in the vast majority of circumstances, the frozen pizza wins,” Domer said. “It's a much more value conscious kind of dinner solution than ordering takeout and so the category is doing very well.”
Consumers are also eating pizza more as a snack, which is growing the overall category, Domer explained.
“[The flatbread] line is getting eaten not only in a traditional mealtime occasion, but it's also getting eaten as a snack or as an appetizer, and so it's been very incremental to the overall pizza category. So, I think lots of opportunity to continue to grow that category with this flatbreads line is sort of a case in point of what's possible.”
Daiya also is providing consumers with food sensitivities and allergies a healthier, better-for-you option, Domer said. Both of these pizzas are "completely plant-based, and the chicken is entirely allergen-free," she added. Approximately 20 million US consumers have a food allergy, including 4 million children, per U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data.
"We all know somebody who has some type of a food sensitivity. And the most common food sensitivity out there is dairy. And it's also very common that when you have a dairy sensitivity, you also have a gluten sensitivity. And this brand is all about being inclusive and providing offerings that everybody in the family can eat.”
Investing in fermentation to spur product development
Daiya is also investing in fermentation technology capabilities, which will be housed at its Burnaby, British Columbia facility.
“We've made so many strides to continue to improve our product, and we just announced a couple of months ago that we've invested in fermentation technology,” Domer said. “We are in the process of making tremendous strides to continue to improve our business and our product delivery."
With this investment, Daiya will innovate around taste to spur consumers to shift to plant-based dairy alternatives, Domer said. "I think the closer we get to a dairy-like experience, the more that those flexitarian consumers are going to be willing to not only try [but] to adopt, so breaking this taste barrier that is the most critical thing we've got to address," she added.
“The reason that we come to work every day is to inspire cheese lovers to leave dairy behind, and not only in the context of slice of cheese or a bag of shredded cheese but also for a pizza for mac and cheese. And so, we have great product news ... not only in our pizza business.”