Commentary

Oprah Wants A Piece Of The Frozen Pizza Pie Market

Entertainment mogul and gustatory trendsetter Oprah Winfrey is expanding her partnership with Kraft Heinz with the launch of a frozen pizza line under the O, That’s Good brand she launched with a line of soups and side dishes last year.

The crust will be 33% cauliflower-based, but the pies will be “maintaining that classic, cheesy pizza flavor you and your family love,” according to a news release.

“The pizzas will come in four styles: Five Cheese, Uncured Pepperoni, Supreme, and Fire Roasted Veggie. The 11-inch pies will serve five people, says Oprah -- to which we say, has Oprah ever seen people snarf down pizza?” writes Chris Morris for Fortune. The suggested retail price is $6.99.

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“It's the perfect healthy alternative to our typical go-to frozen pizza dinners,” Perri Konecky gushes in PopSugar’s “Fitness” section.  “They just convinced us to cancel our dinner plans. By squeezing in more healthy ingredients and managing not to compromise on flavor whatsoever, Oprah's stressing the importance of balance while still helping us get our carb fix.

“Many of Winfrey's grocery-store foods contain cauliflower or butternut squash as a way of adding a bit of nutrition to otherwise indulgent foods. Although, it should be noted that Winfrey's new pizza crusts contain less than a half cup of vegetables per serving,” duly notes CNBC’s Sarah Whitten.

Each pie has between 12 and 15 grams of protein and ranges from 280 to 330 calories per serving. And a healthy dose of the daily recommended dose of sodium — 30% in the case of the Supreme variety, for example.

“Deciding to expand her food line to include pizza came after many conversations with friends, says Winfrey,” write Ana Calderone and Mary Green in what they claim is an exclusive interview with People. 

“We were debating what is the favorite American food -- Is it hot dogs? Is it hamburgers, or is it pizza?” Winfrey tells them. “And in every group I’ve ever been in having that conversation, it’s always pizza. Pizza wins.”

But that was the easy part.

“The A Wrinkle in Time star sat down with developers tasting and tasting different versions of the crust and different ratios of veggies and cheese until it was just right,” Calderone and Green report.

“I can honestly say that I have tasted every version of a pizza with peppers that there could be,” Winfrey says.

“Jumping into the freezer makes sense. Annual U.S. sales of frozen foods are $53 billion industry, according to the consumer data company Nielsen,” reports Zlati Meyer for USA Today.

“‘While growth pockets have existed in frozen for years, its overall growth relative to other packaged food is accelerating as consumers begin to see freezing as a way to preserve food with fewer negatives,’ RBC Capital Markets analyst David Palmer wrote in a report for investors in the spring. 'Frozen prepared foods, e.g. meals, appetizers, are gaining share of stomach,'” Meyer continues.

“[Palmer] explained that frozen meals and appetizers make up 35% of the frozen-food aisle and that this category's sales growth is the highest in five years -- 3% and growing.”

But that’s not all Winfrey is up to (besides continually “dampening speculation” that she is considering a run for President in 2020).

“Meanwhile, last month, Oprah invested in True Food Kitchen, which was started by Sam Fox and anti-inflammatory diet pioneer Dr. Andrew Weil in 2008,”  according to a story in the (Waterloo, Ontario) Record.

“True Food currently has 23 restaurants across the U.S. and Oprah first visited True Food Kitchen in Santa Monica, with her friend Bob Greene,” according to the piece. Greene is one of the more visible members of the rapidly growing profession known as “celebrity trainer.”

“Shortly afterwards, the ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ actress contacted bosses at the company and invited CEO Christine Barone to dine with her at her Montecito estate so she could discuss her possibly investing in the business,” we’re told.

Barone yesterday discussed Winfrey’s involvement with the company in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Scarlet Fu. What exactly will her role be, besides sitting on the board?

“I think her expertise in building a brand is something that I’m very much looking forward to,” Barone tells Fu.

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