Product innovation backed by strong
marketing is continuing to drive rising retail sales of frozen pizza.

The latest launch is Goodfella’s Full
& Crispy Pizza Pie, which manufacturer Green Isle Foods is hoping will help it to
consolidate its market leading position. Goodfella’s Pizza Pie is distinguished by a
rimmed edge, designed to enable it to carry more generous toppings while also improving
its cooking quality.

Part of Northern Foods and operating from
an Irish base at Naas, County Kildare, Green Isle Foods has become one of the UK’s
largest producers of branded and private label pizzas and enjoys market leadership through
the Goodfella’s brand.

Goodfella’s Deep Pan pizza, which is
also brand leader in the Ir£49 million Irish pizza market, was only launched in the UK in
1995. Product innovation coupled with imaginative marketing, founded on a highly
efficient, state-of-the-art manufacturing base have been the keys to Green Isle’s
success.

New £25 Million Plant
Indeed, to meet growing demand for its pizzas, Green Isle has invested £25 million in a
new pizza plant incorporating the most advanced baking, topping and packaging technology,
which will not only add additional capacity for producing family size pizzas but will also
provide the necessary flexibility to expand the product range through the development of
new lines such as Goodfella’s Pizza Pie. Between its Irish and UK sales, the
Goodfella’s brand has a total value in excess of £60 million.

£5 Million Campaign
Green Isle has invested over £5 million in a marketing, advertising and sampling campaign
to support the launch of Goodfella’s Pizza Pie. This includes a £3.5 million tv
campaign, first aired in July with a second burst scheduled for October. Having already
contributed significantly to the growth of the frozen deep pan pizza sector since the
introduction of Goodfella’s Deep Pan pizza four years ago, Green Isle expects the new
product to boost sales in the thin and crispy pizza sector. “Goodfella’s Full
& Crispy Pizza Pie is another quantum leap for Green Isle Foods,” says Michael
Dwyer, group marketing director of Green Isle Foods, “and we confidently expect to
inject further growth into the frozen pizza market.”

Rising Dough
In addition to the Goodfella’s Pizza Pie initiative, other recent key innovations
within the UK frozen pizza market have centred on the development of ‘rising
dough’ or ‘bake and rise’ products. McCain Foods and Schwan’s have
both introduced frozen rising crust pizzas, a new type of pizza which is extremely popular
in the US. The base of the pizza rises during the cooking process to produce a more
authentic taste, aroma and appearance. Schwan’s bake and rise pizza was introduced
earlier this year under the Freschetta brand and was backed by a £1 million TV
advertising campaign.

Pizza Delivery is McCain’s offering.
Available in nine inch and eleven inch sizes, Pizza Delivery has round packaging to
differentiate it from other pizzas in the frozen cabinet and is designed to compete with
the food service and takeaway market. McCain invests strongly behind its pizza brands and
doubled its main media advertising expenditure to £3 million during 1998, according to
Key Note.

Bake and rise pizzas are being used to try
to persuade consumers to trade up to a superior type of product and are also being
promoted as a cheaper alternative to a takeaway or delivered pizza. The popularity of bake
and rise products is expected to increase dramatically over the next couple of years with
some estimates projecting sales reaching £60 million by 2000, against £10 million last
year.

New product development has also been
targeted at the children’s sector of the frozen pizza market. For example, last year
Schwan’s introduced a range of character-based pizzas under its Tony’s brand.

Heinz has also been active and has given
its Bagel Bites, aimed at the snack pizza sector, a new look as part of a pan-European
launch.

UK Frozen Pizza Market
Retail sales of frozen pizza in the UK are continuing to forge ahead despite increasing
competition from pizza delivery and the food service sectors. Retail sales rose by 16%
last year to reach £270 million, according to Key Note. This growth is largely
attributable to the continuing rise in popularity of top quality main meal pizzas (nine
inch), and consumer demand for premium products with tasty bases and a range of appetising
toppings, reflecting the trend in the pizza restaurants sector where consumers have been
moving upmarket. However, growth has also been driven by aggressive discounting in the
marketplace.

Sectors
Main meal pizzas, is by far the largest sector, accounting for 65% of the frozen market,
and is also expanding rapidly, with sales increasing by 28% last year to be worth £175.8
million. Individual pizzas (six inch) are growing even faster, rising by 39.7% in 1998 to
reach retail sales of £27.1 million. However, apart from main meal pizzas and individual
pizzas the other sectors of the frozen pizza market – extra-large main meal, pizza grills,
French bread pizzas, pizza slices and snack pizzas – have been declining (see Table).

Frozen and Chilled
Frozen pizza is the largest element of the total retail pizza market, accounting for over
60% of sales. It is also much faster growing than chilled pizza. In contrast to the
chilled pizza market, where retailer own label products account for over 90% of sales, the
frozen pizza market is characterised by a strong branded presence with only about 45% of
sales under own label format.

Industry Developments
A major development within the UK frozen pizza industry is United Biscuit’s decision
to sell its frozen and chilled foods division, which includes the San Marco pizza business
as well as Linda McCartney meat free products and Jane Asher desserts (see News Brief).
San Marco has been relaunched recently resulting in a resurgence in sales and pizza is
also now part of the McVitie’s Go Ahead! range.

Having demerged its Express Dairies
business in order to concentrate on developing its prepared foods activities and having
been steadily building up a frozen foods operation to complement its chilled foods
interests, Northern Foods is a prime candidate for acquiring United Biscuit’s frozen
and chilled foods division.

The UK Frozen Pizza Market by
Sector, 1998


Source: Key Note.

Top Pizza Brands, 1998


Source: The Grocer Top Products Survey/IRI InfoScan. * total multiples and co-ops.