By Mara Koval
There’s something so magical about being able to pick up the phone, order a pizza, and have it delivered to your door hot and ready to eat in minutes. But often times delivery pizzas are made with less than clean ingredients, laden with preservatives and heavy in additives that deter the conscientious consumer. But as the fast food industry has become more aware of customers’ dietary needs and requests, we’ve seen a surge in healthier menu options from restaurant chains.
Papa John’s, the world’s third largest pizza delivery and take-out chain, is no exception. In line with their “Better ingredients. Better pizza” promise, they’ve dedicated themselves to using fresh core ingredients without MSG, fillers, BHA, BHT, cellulose, or partially hydrogenated oils. Now, they’re taking that promise to consumers a step further, rolling out an organic ingredients pilot program in Lexington, Kentucky near their headquarters.
“Our job every day is to deliver on the promise of ‘Better’ with our ingredients at the center of that promise. The organics pilot program is just the latest innovation to our Clean Label journey,” Sean Muldoon, Chief Ingredient Officer told Clean Plates. “In 2016, we announced the elimination of artificial flavors and synthetic colors across its entire food menu. Last summer, we also fully transitioned the chicken used in grilled chicken pizza toppings and poppers raised without human or animal antibiotics and went completely cage-free with its eggs. Today’s customers want to know where their food comes from, and rightly so. We strive to give our customers high-quality choices in a way that is uniquely Papa John’s.”
Customers in the Lexington area can now choose from a menu featuring four new, organically farmed ingredients: green peppers, yellow onions, mushrooms, and Roma tomatoes. While the pizzas do come at a premium, costing $9.99 for a certified organic produce, two-topping pizza, we believe the added value of quality, organic ingredients outweighs the cost. For Papa John’s, the move seems like a natural response to American households’ increased purchase of organic products. “Last year, our research showed that more than 50 percent of American households purchase organic ingredients,” says Muldoon. “And, based on recent trends, about 20 percent of all produce will come from certified organic farms by 2020. That was telling us something about our customers’ needs.”
The program is in partnership with Green BEAN Delivery, a MidWest-based company dedicated to sourcing, packing, and delivering the best organic ingredients straight to your doorstep. Green BEAN utilizes a network of organic farms across the country, and will enable Papa John’s to source organic produce year round. This newly established organic supply chain shows potential for expansion, but as of right now Papa John’s is focused on this initial step. They want to get this right before rolling it out to other stores nationwide.
While the program is still small scale, it’s making a big statement in the food industry. The move to incorporate sustainably farmed ingredients on the menu is a precursor to other chain restaurants following suit, joining the movement to go organic. Hopefully, we’ll soon be seeing organic ingredients on Papa John’s pizzas across the country and across the globe.