As the foodservice industry continues to suffer amid the Covid-19 pandemic, many plant-based brands have pivoted into retail, with the frozen pizza sector principal among them. Following similar moves in the category by global brands including Veganz and Dr. Oetker, Blackbird Foods and Kitchen 17 now have designs on becoming market leaders in the USA.
Long Island startup Blackbird Foods has recently closed its $1.5 million seed financing round, with the frozen vegan pizza and seitan specialist to use the investment to expand into more retail chains. Along with the pandemic, a surge in demand for plant-based alternatives due to consumer health, ethical and sustainability concerns has led to an increase in demand for frozen, plant-based convenience foods such as pizza.
After quadrupling the output of its retail products during 2020, and with its seed funding round complete, the brand intends to grow its retail distribution by launching at major grocery chains such as Whole Foods across the US in 2021. The brand uses Violife’s plant-based cheese for its toppings as well as its own seitan meat alternatives.
In a similar move, Chicago vegan restaurant Kitchen 17 has expanded the shipping radius for its signature frozen deep dish pizzas. The restaurant – which claims to be the home of the original vegan deep dish pizza – is now offering its house-made frozen pizzas shipped to all 50 states. In the last year it has shipped over 5000 pizzas across the United States. Kitchen 17 makes its nut free cheese and meat substitutes in house, and also offers its pizzas in a gluten-free variety.
“We’ve been working hard to make the pizzas available to the west coast”, said Kitchen 17’s Jennie Plasterer, “While the shipping is expensive, we have brought the cost down significantly and will continue to try to get the best quotes for our customers.”