In a recent post I mentioned that some 20.000 new beverages and processed food products hit grocery store shelves every year. Following up on that post, an incredible 75% of these products fail in their first year.

Given that Food Product Development is now a master’s program at universities around the world – Australia, United States, United Kingdom – I find this abysmal failure rate surprising. What are students learning when they engage with such weighty tomes as Methods for Developing New Food Products – An Instructional Guide? If the latest product gracing the readymade dough section of my local supermarket is an indication, not much.

First, in the same store there are already four brands competing for market share in the I’m-too-lazy-to-make-my-own-dough segment. All of them have the advantage of being pre-rolled which this product doesn’t. If you are targeting consumers who don’t want to put in the minimal effort required to make pizza dough – more on that later – don’t create a barrier of entry by making them roll the dough out.

Second, while France has some amazing doughy delights – croissants, baguettes, brioches – pizza is Italian not French! The UNESCO even confirmed it. In 2017 they granted Neapolitan pizza makers world heritage status. The whole French Connection tie-in just doesn’t work.

Third, one of the interesting things about COVID 19 is that it has led to a baking boom. People have been turning to baking as a way of kneading out their anxiety and creating positive feelings. As we are about to enter a second lockdown, launching yet another readymade dough product right now doesn’t seem particularly prudent.

Finally, a pre-made sourdough product is simply wrong. The whole point of sourdough breads is that you use your own sourdough starter in making them – a living, personal, creation which you continually refresh and tweak giving your breads a unique flavor. I doubt that many sourdough consumers are also prefab consumers.

By the way, basic pizza dough is incredibly easy and rewarding to make. There are only six ingredients: water, yeast, salt, olive oil, flour, and (in most recipes) sugar. However, for a truly amazing dough I strongly recommend adding “Cookie” Baciagalupo’s secret ingredient. So, if you don’t know what to make for dinner tonight, try your hand at homemade pizza.

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