Holy Napoli is heating up the premium frozen aisle

With its investment, Bond Bakery could be kicking off more high-end products coming to the space.

Holy-Napoli

The popularity of the frozen foods aisle show no signs of cooling off, driven in part by strength in pizza.

A third of Canadians buy frozen pizza anywhere from a few times per week to a few times per month, part of an explosion in frozen food sales brought on by the pandemic. 

Baked goods accelerator Bond Bakery is announcing an investment in premium frozen challenger Holy Napoli Pizza, based outside of Vancouver. It’s currently available in 400 retailer stores including Whole Foods, Fortinos and Calgary Co-op banners and the investment will help the upstart increase capacity and boost distribution nationally.

“The pandemic really stimulated this mass buy of all kinds of frozen pizzas,” says Francesca Galasso, CEO of Holy Napoli. “Maybe someone was a Delissio eater and it was now an opportunity to try private label, organic or our pizza,” she says. There was a really great opportunity for trial with product “flying off the shelves.”

While the demand has leveled out compared with freezer stocking that occurred during lockdowns, it did provide exposure to the Neapolitan-style pizza brand, which was launched in 2017. It also produces frozen pizza dough balls, which served Holy Napoli well when consumers turned to home baking during the height of the pandemic.

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Galasso used to own a restaurant and pizzeria in North Vancouver. And she wanted to replicate the flavours of a traditional wood fired Neapolitan-styled pizza, the genesis of the Holy Napoli brand.

“There was nothing that was resonating with me in the frozen section,” Gallaso says.

Now, there are lots of upscale players, like Toronto’s General Assembly, entering the market and it’s kind of a rising tide, Gallaso explains, with more consumers familiarizing themselves with what a premium pizza actually tastes like.

And there are strong opportunities to engage them, by standing out against the likes of a Dr. Oetker/Momenti or Nestle’s DiGiorno and Delissio. 

“Across the board in the category, the packaging is really dark and the photography is not terribly engaging, and there’s nothing modern or exciting about it,” Gallaso claims. With Holy Napoli, it wants to communicate a bold, fresh, look and feel to the brand and white boxes really help making it stand out at point-of-sale. The packaging, which features characters like a nonna or an opera singer belting into a megaphone-like pizza, calls out traditional Neapolitan ingredients ,like San Marzano tomatoes.

Gallaso tells strategy that because frozen is the most premium space, it found success by offering retailers mini display freezers. “If they had the floor space, it was a bit of a no-brainer,” she says.

Holy Napoli will be launching a digital/ecommerce campaign this September with Spud, an online organic grocery home delivery service popular in the West.

“They have a strong marketing department, so for us we feel fortunate to be able to partner with them,” Gallaso says.

Right now, it is in Thrifty Foods and Safeway banners in B.C., and in IGAs in Quebec. “We are in pursuit of the larger Sobeys listing,” Gallaso says, and the brand is getting excellent traction and hopes to get better insight into what resonates with the Sobeys shopper for a national listing.

The brand is looking to reach young millennial families with disposable income looking for better-for-you frozen pie options. There are also middle aged foodies it’s targeting, excited about making their own pizzas at home.

“What’s great about our SKU lineup, is that pizza dough has the lifestyle component,” she says. But also, if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can get a five-SKU frozen offering.

The brand works with Vancouver shop Spring Advertising for messaging and packaging.