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Get your own 5(a) and fight

A lesson in how to compete with frozen pizzas


March 25, 2008
By Diana Coutu

Topics

I’m a big fan of cheeses. As much as I believe that
Canada’s present two-class pricing system is entirely unjust, I’m
hopelessly in love with Canadian cheeses. The real ones anyway.

I’m a big fan of cheeses. As much as I believe that Canada’s present two-class pricing system is entirely unjust, I’m hopelessly in love with Canadian cheeses. The real ones anyway.

More and more soy-based and other based cheeses are hitting the market. And I have to say that, in my opinion, even the best soy-based cheeses seem to be missing something. We do carry a soy cheese at the store specifically for clients that have requested it. But the soy cheese is not for me, no matter what I try with it, I just prefer the real deal.

The other day we were testing a few samples of cheese. A Swiss, a smoked Gouda, a Havarti garlic & chive and the World’s Second Best Aged White Cheddar, all produced in my home province of Manitoba by the fine Bothwell Cheese company.

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We made four pizzas with the same crusts and light sauce. We wanted to taste just the cheeses, and assess topping possibilities from there. Let me tell you that the Havarti garlic and chives was unbelievable. It was totally wicked. Truly incredible, just on its own.

Then we tried it with some mildly spiced Capicolla ham … oh boy, another hit. Next, I made a ham and broccoli pizza with Swiss cheese. The Swiss melted nicely and complemented the toppings wonderfully. Did you know that Swiss cheese is naturally lactose free? I just found that fact out myself. 

Then I made a Capicolla ham with asparagus pizza with olive oil and herb sauce and smothered it with the World’s Second Best Aged White Cheddar. That was a powerful pizza – cheddar lovers beware.  I think a good balance would be a half and half mix of mozzarella and the aged cheddar.

The smoked Gouda had a meaty flavour, I would have tried it with a veggie, my husband wanted a meat, but alas, we were already too full that day. 

It’s good to experiment. As an independent pizzeria operator you have a lot of flexibility with your menu. Who knows what your customers would like for a change. Why not feature a new cheese for a month? Another idea might be to create a blend all your own – and make sure you charge extra for it. Premium Canadian cheeses command premium prices.  

On another note, what can we do about the two-tier pricing for cheese in Canada?

Well as the saying goes, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

We got our 5(a) permit, eh!

I highly recommend it for any pizzeria owner wanting a lucrative and profitable second stream of income – which is very much like the first – just done a little differently.

The most difficult part was getting the phone number for the Canadian Dairy Commission to request an application form. And then a little “mumbo jumbo jargin” when it came to the form, but we just kept calling to ask questions until we got it done.
Once you have that 5(a) in hand, get some shrink-wrap and get to it.

We sell a frozen line that we make out of the same kitchen. We have a small display freezer in our customer area and even with three frozen shifts a week, we can’t keep it filled for long. We also have a wrapped freezer in a Jumbo Video outlet, selling gourmet pizzas and gourmet panzerotties.

If I had a bigger store, I would have a dozen more freezers for off-site sales. Convenience stores, gas stations, other video stores, there are tons of possibilities and opportunities. We even wholesale our frozen pizzas to another company who ships them to rural areas in northern Manitoba and northern Ontario.

No, it’s not Delissio, it’s Diana’s.

Independent pizzeria owners have a huge advantage over mass-produced frozen and deli pizzas available at local grocery stores. We know pizza; it’s our specialty. They make hundreds of other items, with varying degrees of success. But pizza is not one of those items, that’s why it has to be so cheap.

If you’ve ever looked closely at those pizzas in the deli freezer, it’s obvious that they’ve all been thrown together with little cause or concern. They’re really ugly pizzas. And those frozen pies need to be hidden away in pretty boxes with pictures of ‘real pizza’ on the outside.

Grocery stores sell pizzas as a loss leader item, which means that they purposely under-price the pizzas and lose money on them in order to bring shoppers into the store. It’s the same concept that has been used with soft drinks for years.

The grocery store makes money on other items … and it all evens out to bigger profits for them.

This is why you’d be shooting yourself in the foot if you tried to match the pricing of those frozen and deli pies. Unless you can purchase cheese for about 30 per cent less than your fresh pricing, don’t even try.

Take a stand. Get your 5(a) permit and let’s take a chunk of business back from those mass-produced frozen pizza companies and grocery chains.•


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