- Media mogul Oprah Winfrey continued her partnership with Kraft Heinz by launching a line of frozen pizzas in her O, That’s Good! line, according to a company statement. The pizzas are touted as more nutritious, with a partial cauliflower crust and no artificial flavors or dyes.
- The new line will be available in the frozen foods sections of U.S. grocery stores for $6.99 per pie with four options for toppings: pepperoni, five-cheese, supreme and fire-roasted vegetable. In addition to the pizza, O, That’s Good! is adding four new refrigerated soups and side dishes.
- The release says that consumers should not taste the difference in the pizza crust — a third of which is made from cauliflower, which is less than half a cup of vegetables per serving. Head of Kraft Heinz's Mealtime Stories division Christopher Urban said in the release the company understands "the trifecta of great taste, real ingredients and convenience in food options is nearly impossible to find."
The new pizza line seems to hit a lot of the right notes for what today’s consumers want: healthy, convenient foods that also support sustainability. Oprah's star power could continue to help advertising for the brand and her association with comfort food makes pizza a nice addition to her continued stake in the CPG food market.
“Pizza is a favorite, fun and easy food to share with family and friends,” Winfrey said in the release. “I am always looking to add a nutritious twist to my foods, so we made part of the crust in my new pizza with cauliflower while maintaining that classic, cheesy pizza flavor you and your family love.”
Although the release noted that Oprah's venture with Kraft Heinz has yet to turn a profit, it could be a matter of time. The venture seems to be banking on its eventual success with the new pizza line and adding more refrigerated soups. Winfrey’s name and image could give the food company a boost at a time when grocery stores are adding space for refrigerated and frozen items.
Finding a way to stand out is crucial for CPG products in an overcrowded market. Product endorsements often make the consumer feel closer to their favorite celebrity by drinking Gatorade to “Be like Mike,” sipping on Pepsi like Beyonce or eating Hot Pockets endorsed by Harlem Shake artist, Baauer.
Jeff Stibel, a brain scientist and author of “Wired for Thought: How the Brain Is Shaping the Future of the Internet,” said a celebrity endorsement is similar to a recommendation from a close friend.
“In our brains, we don’t differentiate between the two,” he said in an email to Food Dive.
Brands have often recruited stars to endorse their products, but now shoppers expect them to bring authenticity with their celebrity names. For the new pizza line to be a success, consumers will need to believe Oprah's endorsement.
It also makes sense for Kraft Heinz and Oprah to move more into frozen and prepared foods. Frozen foods that are positioned as natural or having healthy attributes resonate with millennials, according to Store Brands. A new report from SPINS shows sales of naturally positioned products in the frozen department increased 11.1% in 2016 — compared to the overall frozen department’s 2017 growth of 1.7%. The top-performing natural frozen segments include plant-based frozen entrees, gluten-free pizza and products with probiotics.
The space has rebounded as food manufacturers have innovated products to add more attributes popular with consumers. Acosta shows that next to convenience, products with labels stating no antibiotics, non-GMO, hormone-free, all-natural, sustainable and low-sodium are important for frozen food consumers. The growing demand for convenience and less interest in cooking — especially among millennials — has helped spur the surge in frozen foods.
Oprah’s endorsement has been sought after by many companies for decades. Traditionally, her involvement in a product means skyrocketing success, whether the product is a book chosen for her book club or her endorsement of Weight Watchers. If O, That’s Good! frozen pizza can break into the space and the small portion of cauliflower can give it the nutritional credential it seeks, than this new line could be a success.