Albuquerque, New Mexico-based WiseChoice Foods has formed an ongoing distribution partnership with Kroger brand grocery stores for its new bake-at-home WisePies Pizza product line starting the week of June 15.
WiseChoice Foods LLC is a certified minority-owned and female-operated company and is the first and only frozen pizza company from New Mexico. WisePies Pizza features 10.25-inch pizzas that are thin crust, fast to cook, superior clean-label and meet sustainable manufacturing practices that support the local economy and foster economic growth.
Kroger distribution will encompass Smith’s Food & Drug in New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana; Fry’s Foods Stores in Arizona; King Soopers grocery stores in Colorado; City Market in Colorado; and Ralphs grocery stores in California. The initial rollout will feature the certified Hatch Green Chile Four Cheese Pizza on traditional crust and the certified Hatch Green Chile Uncured Pepperoni Pizza on traditional crust.
“We are thrilled that Kroger connected with our corporate culture and recognized the innovative, unique and delicious nature of our products to support this regional rollout,” said Season Elliott, WiseChoice Foods president. “At WiseChoice Foods, we have a passion for pizza that we share with pizza lovers all over the world. With the new product line, we’re connecting the traditional premium pizza category to the natural foods category as the two categories don’t need to be mutually exclusive. We’re meeting the highest quality food standards and removing more than 150 unnatural and potentially harmful ingredients that can be found in other food products while maintaining the robust and hearty Italian flavors we all crave from our pizza. We feel like delicious food can and should also support our overall health through better food options.”
“The path into Kroger grocery stores for WiseChoice Foods was not a short or easy journey. The tenacious effort we saw from WiseChoice Foods was an early indication of today’s announcement,” stated Eric Ballman, corporate sales manager for Empire Marketing Strategies, a food brokerage company that works exclusively with Kroger. “Initially, Kroger noticed WiseChoice Foods because of their sound, regional research and innovative product line. After the initial meeting and pizza tasting with the category manager, Kroger realized that these products were also incredibly delicious and was a new pizza line they could get behind and support. The story behind the WisePies Pizza brand, their company beliefs in creating better products for better health, sustainable practices, community support and the clean-label promise that applies to each of their products created a beautiful congregate that led to this successful step. But this is just the beginning.”
The WiseChoice Foods team recognized a unique opportunity in 2018 to develop a frozen pizza line with the highest-quality, natural ingredients featuring its proprietary roasted red pepper marinara recipe. After 18 months of careful research and development considering every component of the pizzas, 34 products were created in the line-up with seven that are now available in New Mexico, including the bulk, food service product lines that are available from Shamrock Foods New Mexico and many Shamrock Foodservice Warehouses.
WiseChoice Foods also strived to locally source components of its production. The autumn-roast, certified Hatch green chile that tops WisePies Pizzas is produced by Bueno Foods in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The recyclable, soy ink-printed retail pizza box is provided by Captiva Group which is also based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
WisePies Pizza & Salad started as a single restaurant in New Mexico in 2014. In 2018, backed by WiseChoice Foods owner Steven B. Chavez, two WiseGals (Season Elliott, president of WiseChoice Foods and Laura Lingad, director of operations) saw the potential in the pizza products leading to the introduction of WisePies Pizza restaurant favorites as “A Smarter Way to Pizza” in the grocer’s freezer case and for foodservice. This product line is the crossover between the natural foods and traditional premium pizza categories, carries the clean label promise, elevates sustainable practices as a priority and is locally operated and family owned.