27 Sep 20 Caulipower: intersecting health, taste and convenience
Caulipower’s success is a fascinating story; an innovative company built out of a working mother’s need for a convenient and healthy gluten-free option, and one that keeps growing by looking for products it can improve. Its founder has some fervid ideas on what constitutes good/poor NPD.
When Gail Becker started Caulipower in 2017, it wasn’t because she had ideas on how to transform the food business or a cherished recipe that she wanted everyone in the United States to have the opportunity to taste.
It was more born out of a need she found after trying to make her sons with caeliac disease a pizza, as well as inspiration from her late father, an immigrant who built his own small business.
A marketing executive at the time, Becker knew there were ways to utilise cauliflower to make pizza crust. A web search turned up 569,000 recipes. She chose one, spent more than an hour making it and served it for dinner. It tasted OK, she said, but she didn’t think much more about it until her son asked if she was going to make it again.
“And honestly, … I said, ‘There is no freaking way I’m gonna make that again because it took 90 minutes to make a pizza crust after I got home from a full day of work,'” Becker said. “But I said, ‘I’ll tell you what. I’ll find it for you.’
“And I looked everywhere. I looked online, I looked in Whole Foods. Trader Joe’s, all the usual suspects. I couldn’t find it. And so, ostensibly, I looked at all of those three things happening at the same time. And thought, ‘I know! I am going to leave corporate America, and start a company called Caulipower,’ and that is what I did.”
Caulipower was one of the first cauliflower pizza crusts to market and it took off. The company says it’s one of the nation’s best selling and fastest growing frozen pizza brands. But Caulipower isn’t just a pizza company. It’s expanded into other food items: cauliflower tortillas, cauliflower-breaded chicken tenders, riced cauliflower and mini toasts using sweet potato instead of bread. While the company is best known for pizza, Becker said sales are solid for all of their products.
When figuring out new products to launch, Becker said she’s always looking for items that she can improve.
“I don’t make anything that we couldn’t make better, and by better, I mean the intersection of taste, health and convenience — it has to have all three …It’s super easy to get one of those. It’s a little bit more challenging to get two of those. Three is really rare.”
Caulipower’s latest launch, frozen Riced Cauliflower cups, started hitting shelves in June. Becker said consumers have requested Caulipower riced cauliflower more than any other product, but she always demurred because she didn’t think she could improve on the product. After all, riced cauliflower has been on the market for years from leading frozen vegetable providers.
But Becker took a closer look and found plenty of room for improvement. For starters, many of those products are just plain cauliflower. Nothing different has been done to it except for the way it’s been cut. Some of the products that flavor their riced cauliflower use ingredients that aren’t clean label. And, Becker said, the white plastic frozen vegetable bag those products are packaged in is the type of thing just asking to get buried in the freezer.
The new Caulipower Riced Cauliflower is in reusable and recyclable plastic containers, which Becker said provided an important convenience factor. It comes in three varieties unique to the brand: Baja Style with corn, black beans and spices; Curried with turmeric and green herbs; and Sesame Citrus, which is tangy with red pepper, edamame and onion.
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