- Caulipower, the California-based maker of frozen cauliflower crust pizzas, cauliflower tortillas and SweetPotaToasts, is rolling out frozen chicken tenders this fall in Original and Spicy(ish) varieties. The company said in a release its new product is baked, not fried.
- The chicken tenders have a coating made with cauliflower, rice flour and brown rice flour and are made without artificial ingredients, the company said. They will be available in the freezer aisles at more than 4,200 national and regional retailers starting in September, with a suggested retail price between $8.99 to $9.99 per 14-ounce resealable pack.
- The chicken is sourced from Naked Truth, a Georgia poultry producer that raises cage-free animals without antibiotics, Caulipower said. Naked Truth has a Global Animal Partnership Step 2 rating, meaning it meets a list of welfare standards to make sure the animals are healthy and have enough space, light and darkness for rest.
Since launching in 2017, Caulipower has leveraged its vegetable focus into a powerhouse brand, showing up in the frozen section of retailers like Whole Foods, Walmart and Kroger. While the company has topped some of its cauliflower-crusted pizzas with items like turkey pepperoni and pepperoni, its new chicken tenders will be its first expansion to more meat-focused products.
The time may be ripe to venture in the segment. Citing SPINS data for the 52 weeks ending March 24, the company said the U.S. market for breaded chicken tenders, strips and nuggets is worth $1.15 billion. It's a crowded space, however, with heavyweights like Tyson Foods and Perdue dominating much of the market. Just last week, Perdue also introduced its own vegetable-blended chicken nugget, although its version mixes vegetables directly with the poultry whereas Caulipower's uses cauliflower in the coating.
Caulipower may be leaning on the product's healthier qualities to differentiate it from the pack. The chicken tenders are baked, have no saturated fat and are relatively lower in calories. It's nutritional profile, combined with its chicken sourcing, could appeal to the growing numbers of health and environmentally conscious consumers.
The new line may also get a boost from the company's increasing name recognition. According to another SPINS report, it is one the fastest-growing frozen pizza brands in the U.S., ranking eighth overall in terms of sales. Competitors have emerged with their own take on cauliflower pizza crust, including Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and California Pizza Kitchen.
Although Caulipower's frozen chicken tenders represent a new direction for the company, it seems to know how to effectively market to busy consumers looking for easy and convenient shortcuts that are healthier and contain recognizable ingredients. If the new product is successful, the company could launch other coated products with chicken or pork, or maybe with plant-based proteins.