Can frozen pizza make it in the breakfast category? Maybe so, given retail reports of initial success for a product line intended explicitly to make that connection.
Sunrise Singles, a pizza-for-breakfast line produced by Red Baron Pizza Service, has been available nationally for less than a year. Most of the retail buyers contacted by SN said that it is showing positive sales results, though they were not yet prepared to credit the line with creating an important new subcategory, either for pizza or breakfast.
Sunrise Singles breakfast pizzas have a high-lipped, biscuit-style crust filled with traditional breakfast items such as eggs, bacon, cheese and ham. Flavors include Ham Scramble, Sausage Scramble and Country Style Sausage and Gravy.
The products were test-marketed primarily in the Southeast, then rolled out to other markets by Red Baron, in many cases with promotional support.
"They're doing real well," said Gerald Mashburn, general manager and buyer for Piggly Wiggly Stores, Calhoun, Ga. "They're real strong in our area." He said that the supplier supports the line with frequent product demonstrations.
"Younger people are probably the ones who are trying it more than any other group," Mashburn added. "Maybe it's doing well because the rest of the pizza business continues to go up." A buyer from another Southern retailer said the pizzas were "doing pretty good" after a few months in his stores. "I don't know if it's a fad or not. We'll see about that after some time. We've only had them since December or January," he explained.
J. Thomas Outlaw Jr., director of frozen foods for Ingles Markets, Black Mountain, N.C., said he is pleased with the sales figures for Sunrise Singles. Like other retailers interviewed, Outlaw said he merchandises the breakfast pizzas beside other frozen breakfast items. He characterized them as a welcome addition to the category.
"We discussed [placement of the product] with Red Baron and did tests in several different stores. It seems they did well when put in the breakfast section, so that's where we have them."
A buyer for a Western chain said he's also happy with consumer response to the new line.
"They're doing pretty well, especially for something so different," the buyer said. "I guess we'll have to wait to see if it's just people buying out of curiosity, or if some of these are repeat buyers. Only time will tell that. So far it looks good."
Each package contains two 5-inch pizzas, at a suggested retail price of $2.99. Some retailers said that price point looks so far to be on the high side.
Mike Schnapp, buyer for Seaway Food Town, Maumee, Ohio, said sales in his stores are slow. "I think it's priced too high. Someone on their way to work can stop in at McDonald's and buy one of their sandwiches for about $2. Here, the customer has to pay more and heat the item up himself. It slows down the routine," he said.
Still, all the buyers agreed that the Sunrise Singles line is hard to compare directly with other breakfast items, because as far as they know, there is nothing else quite like it.