Leftovers is our look at a few of the product ideas popping up everywhere. Some are intriguing, some sound amazing and some are the kinds of ideas we would never dream of. We can't write about everything that we get pitched, so here are some leftovers pulled from our inboxes.
Banza cooks up chickpea pizza crust
Chickpea food producer Banza is breaking into a new category with its signature ingredient.
Banza is launching a line of frozen pizzas with a chickpea crust, according to a release. The product cooks in the oven in less than 15 minutes and comes in three RTE varieties: Four Cheese, Roasted Veggie and Margherita, as well as a build-your-own Plain crust.
The product is made with ingredients including chickpeas, olive oil, yeast and oregano to give it the taste and texture consumers want from pizza: “a crispy crust with a doughy center that doesn't flop over when you pick up a slice,” Banza said.
From Caulipower’s cauliflower pizza to Foster Farms’ chicken-crusted pizza, there is a growing variety of frozen pizza crusts with unconventional ingredients as a base. But Banza said its product has more protein and fiber, and fewer carbs and sodium, than wheat and cauliflower pizzas on the market.
"Chickpeas are one of the most nutrient-dense and environmentally-friendly foods available, yet we consume far less of them than we should," Brian Rudolph, CEO and co-founder of Banza, said in a statement.
Banza is not the only company using this ingredient at the center of its products. More companies are focusing on innovation using chickpeas, including InnovoPro, ChickP and Biena.
Banza, which launched five years ago, rapidly became one of the fastest-growing pasta brands in the U.S. and is now sold in more than 13,500 stores. The company has chickpea alternatives in a variety of categories, including 16 pasta shapes and six options for mac & cheese.
Last year, the company raised $20 million to expand its product portfolio and reach. In 2019, Banza also expanded into the rice category.
— Lillianna Byington
General Mills puts a scare in Halloween with monster-themed busts
As consumers brace for a Halloween season unlike any other, General Mills is looking to make sure the holiday is still a scream for fans of its popular monster-themed cereals.
The Minnesota CPG giant worked with an award-winning special effects artist to create 20-inch tall busts of three of its popular monster cereal characters Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry. Each bust took about 30 hours to mold and sculpt, and another 15 hours to paint.
“While Halloween is a little different this year, it can still be special,” Rob Litt, a spokesperson for General Mills, said in a statement. “Winners will certainly appreciate the handcrafted designs and work that went into bringing these to life, so to speak.”
To win one of the three busts, consumers had to visit General Mills’ Instagram account, like the official sweepstakes post featuring the three monsters, name their favorite Monster Cereal in a comment and use the hashtag #MonsterCerealSweepstakes.
With consumers spending more time at home, social media has become an integral part of the way companies connect with people. The clever way General Mills went about promoting its spooky cereals helps bring levity to a rather challenging year for many Americans, while simultaneously allowing the food giant to promote its products in a way that ties them into the season and generates additional publicity.
Milk and cereal was once the go-to breakfast option for many Americans, but in recent years, consumers looking for more convenience and nutritional benefits caused cereal sales to decline. The coronavirus pandemic has helped sales of the popular staple rebound as consumers who once skipped breakfast turned back to the convenient option in their pantry. For the two months ended April 25, breakfast sales rose 34%, according to Nielsen data cited by Food Navigator.
General Mills’s monster promotion probably won’t scare sales meaningfully higher in the long term, but it will help bring some positive press to the largely downtrodden category.
— Christopher Doering
Cleveland Kitchen brings fermentation to salad dressing
Using fermentation to make foods functional is a hot trend, and Cleveland Kitchen is quite literally betting the Ranch on it.
The Ohio-based company, known for its premium pouched Cleveland Kraut sauerkraut, is branching out into dressings, and its new Backyard Ranch is the centerpiece of the new line. This new ranch is a spin on the popular buttermilk-based dressing, using different better-for-you ingredients and reducing the average calories per serving from 160 for a healthier-styled conventional ranch to 90 for Backyard Ranch.
Backyard Ranch uses kefir as its dairy base. It’s flavored with fermented cabbage, garlic and black pepper puree, and it’s sweetened only by date syrup.
Cleveland Kitchen co-founder and CEO Drew Anderson said in a release that ranch dressing is a way to reach more consumers.
“We felt that creating a gut-healthy probiotic ranch was a great entry point for those that might be a little more hesitant to try out fermented products for the first time," he said.
As the nation’s most popular salad dressing — 40% of consumers said ranch was their favorite in a 2017 poll from the Association of Dressings and Sauces cited by The New York Times — ranch sells. Adding a functional and better-for-you spin to the distinctly American condiment that is used to enhance salads, vegetables, pizza and wings is likely to get quite a bit of consumer interest. And this interest is both near Cleveland Kitchen’s home base in Northeast Ohio — ranch dressing is apparently consumed more in the Great Lakes region than anywhere else, the Detroit Metro Times reported — and elsewhere in the nation.
Cleveland Kitchen is positioning its Backyard Ranch to lead its offerings in the dressing category. Other Cleveland Kitchen dressings bringing fermented function to the category include Hail Caesar, Sweet Beet, Gnarly Miso Jalapeno and Roasted Garlic.
— Megan Poinski