Following in the footsteps of Chipotle, which just debuted preservative-free tortillas, Papa John’s has announced an ambitious new project that should entice health-conscious people who still like cheap pizza: organic toppings.
Dubbed the “organics pilot program,” the company is trying to cement itself as a leader in the clean eating revolution by testing out four, freshly sliced toppings in select restaurants across Lexington Kentucky. Customers can see if organic roma tomatoes, green peppers, yellow onions, and mushrooms fit their fancy.
In conjunction with Green Bean Delivery, the pizza purveyor is sourcing the fresh veggie from farms in Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Oregon, California and Indiana. Sean Muldoon, the company’s Chief Ingredient Officer (yes, that’s an actual job title) said of the project: "Our customers want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced...At Papa John's, we are constantly looking at ways to meet the needs of our customers whether it's through our clean label initiative or testing organic produce."
Papa John’s is also rolling out a gluten-free crust in Los Angeles, Nashville, St. Louis and Phoenix, according to Fortune.
This is all catered toward a larger market trend; the organic food industry posted a sales record of $43.5 billion in 2015, and Fortune reports that half of American households have organic produce in the fridge. Papa John’s is seizing on an investment opportunity, and has been for a while: In 2016, the company announced the elimination of synthetic and artificial food colors, preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup across its entire menu.
Papa John’s enjoys trumpeting itself as the country's healthiest pizza chain. As customers are increasingly drawn to healthy eating, the claim appears to make sense.