Pitaya Foods moves beyond frozen fruits with ready-to-eat smoothie bowls

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Pitaya Foods
Image Credit: Pitaya Foods

Related tags frozen aisle smoothies

Pitaya Foods is taking its first step outside of the frozen fruit category with the launch of ready-to-eat smoothie bowls that will open doors in new channels, like convenience stores, company CEO and founder Chuck Casano told FoodNavigator-USA.

What I'm most excited about in this next phase of our business is these ready-to-eat smoothie bowls that open up a whole new sales channel for us. We've never had a grab-and-go option per se. All the fruit that we sell at Costco and Whole Foods you have to bring it home and blend it to make a smoothie... We're really excited that now we've opened up this c-store channel opportunity.​”

Mixing things up in frozen with smoothies, push into c-stores 

Recently, Pitaya Foods launched its line of smoothie bowls​ at Walmart, which are available in Clarity (coconut, pineapple, and blue spirulina), Energy (acai, blueberry, and banana), Immunity (passion fruit, mango, and pineapple), Inner Health (dragon fruit, pineapple, and mango), and Recover (chocolate, banana, and sunflower butter) flavors.

Pitaya Foods is now exploring opportunities to expand into c-stores with a ready-to-eat option, Casano said. Last week, the company was also invited to 7-Eleven’s Brand with Heart event​ at its headquarters in Dallas, an event designed to get new brands into 7-Eleven, Speedway, and Stripes stores.

On the other side of its business, Pitaya Foods capitalized on demand for frozen foods during the pandemic and was able to attract new consumers to its brand, he added.

The frozen category pre-pandemic was super sleepy. Nobody really knew what was going on, and it was very fragmented. There were the kings of coconut, there were the kings of acai, and we were the kings of dragon fruit. And we looked at the category like how we can consolidate this, and so, that's when we took our supply chain, [and] we started bringing passion fruit from Vietnam, avocados from Mexico, watermelon from Mexico, and acai from Brazil and presented it [as] a full super-fruit line to our buyers.​”

The frozen food category has also been helped by macro trends, including consumers looking for better-for-you options, Casano said. Frozen can help address other consumer concerns like food waste, as Pitaya Foods produces near zero food waste and provides a shelf-life of two years, he added.

Private label: Threat or opportunity? 

With the increased demand for frozen foods, many private-label brands have come into the space. However, Pitaya Foods doesn't see this as an obstacle but as an opportunity to grow its brand alongside these brands by providing unique frozen fruits that might not be available as a private-label product, Casano explained.

"If you take Walmart, for example, we are growing their private-label business because people are getting more excited about frozen fruits ... People are grabbing our item, our dragon fruit, and it's fueling more mango and banana sales because they need more stuff to go in [their smoothies]. And I think it's also what our buyers are telling us: Our brand is a great vehicle for discovery.​"

Beyond finding opportunities to work with its retailers, Pitaya Foods is looking for other avenues to grow its business with new product types and invest in activities to get the word out about the brand, he added.

We’re about to unlock a lot of value in our brand. We're investing more in outside marketing to really let people know who we are and tell our story,​” Casano said. “You're just going to start hearing a lot more about us.​”

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