Consumer Reports puts frozen pizza to the test

“Consumer Reports” has released a full report on frozen pizzas for its January 2011 issue. Of 100 cheese pies tested, those with the highest ratings include Amy’s Cornmeal Crust 3 Cheese, Home Run Inn Classic and DiGiorno Rising Crust Four Cheese.

Amy’s Cornmeal Crust 3 Cheese was the most expensive of the three, at $7.99. The artisanal product earned points for its fresh-tasting vegetables, herbs and goat cheese topped over a flavorful cornmeal crust.

Chicago-style Home Run Inn Classic Cheese, $7.42, was noted for its generous portions of cheese and sauce over a pastry-style crust.

DiGiorno’s Italian-style Rising Crust Four Cheese, at $6.47, also includes copious amounts of cheese and sauce, which complements the thick, chewy crust.

None of the products scored an “excellent” rating from “Consumer Reports.” The test focused on cheese pizzas specifically, as they’re one of the top-selling in the segment, according to the National Frozen Pizza Institute.

Seven judges tasted each undercover brand three times, grading crust, cheese and sauce separately, as well as overall quality.

The products also were judged on nutrition. Top-rated Amy's stood out as the lowest in saturated fat and among the lowest in sodium. Red Baron Fire Baked scored “Fair” because it was among the highest in calories, total fat, and saturated fat.

The full report is available online.

A “Consumer Reports” statement outlined that the test was done because frozen pizzas are convenient and cost effective, and they can also offer quality.

A few chains have dipped into the frozen pizza industry, including California Pizza Kitchen.
The frozen pizza industry, including private-label products, has fared very well throughout the past few years.

Ed Zimmerman, an industry veteran and president of Pizza.com, believes pizza chains should be watching the frozen segment closely.

“Frozen pizza is a serious threat,” he said. “The product has improved greatly over the last 5 years due to Live Yeast technology. Foodservice pizza should pay a lot of attention to frozen but typically dismisses it.”

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