On Tuesday, Papa John's announced a partnership with Green BEAN Delivery, an organic home grocery delivery service, to help it serve its pizza with all-natural ingredients including freshly-sliced roma tomatoes, green peppers and mushrooms. The pizza chain is testing these ingredients in its Lexington, Ky. market through May 21.
The organic ingredients will be produced from family farms in Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Oregon, California and Indiana.
In addition, Papa John's will begin offering an option to purchase any pizza made with gluten-free crust. The gluten-free option is available only in the company's Los Angeles, Phoenix, St. Louis and Nashville markets at this time.
The big question now: how long before every Papa John's pizza is organic.
"We'd need some time, but it's not out of the realm of possibility [that all our pizza would be organic]," said Sean Muldoon, Chief Ingredient Officer at Papa John's in an interview with TheStreet. "We've worked incredibly hard to get where we are with our ingredients, and we listen to our customers when they tell us what they want. This pilot in Lexington is an important first step in considering the viability of utilizing organic ingredients on a larger scale."
The shift to "cleaner" ingredients appears to be a growing trend by many fast-food restaurants of late as millennials continue to gravitate more toward organic food items vs. frozen, preservative-laden products.
The company also was not shy to attack rival Panera Bread (PNRA) which also revealed last week that it was launching a line of drinks free of artificial flavors and sweeteners. Plus, Panera became the first fast food chain to start posting calorie and sugar counts smack dab on its fountain machines last Friday, a move that will likely hurt its supplier PepsiCo (PEP) - Get Reportover time.
"At Chipotle, our real ingredients have nothing to hide," said Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing and development officer at Chipotle. "Other restaurants are trying to make their ingredients sound better by switching artificial colors, flavors and preservatives for friendlier sounding additives that serve the same purpose. Our food is made entirely with real ingredients that consumers easily recognize -- the kinds of ingredients you can buy yourself at a farmers' market or grocery store."
Meanwhile, McDonald's (MCD) - Get Reportannounced last Thursday that by mid-2018 it will be serving only fresh, vs. frozen, beef, in what appears to be an attempt to rev up its competition with Wendy's (WEN) - Get Report which already uses fresh beef.
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