Are pizza delivery chains trying to appeal to a more health-conscious consumer?

Papa John’s is trying to live up to its "Better Ingredients, Better Pizza," slogan by offering organic vegetable toppings at about 35 locations near their headquarters in Louisville, Ky.

The organic offerings are part of a pilot program launched over the past month that the chain intends to roll out nationwide.

Noting customers' changing attitudes about what's considered "healthy," chief ingredient officer Sean Muldoon and his team say they wanted to see how customers would respond to having organic options on the menu.

“Our customers want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced,” said Muldoon in a  press release. “At Papa John’s, we are constantly looking at ways to meet the needs of our customers whether it’s through our clean label initiative or testing organic produce.”


To get the pilot program started, the pizza chain-- founded in 1983 by John Schnatter-- partnered with Green BEAN Delivery, a family owned company, to source Roma tomatoes, green peppers, yellow onions and mushrooms from certified organic farms across the country in Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Oregon, California and Indiana.

Matt Ewer, the CEO of GREEN Bean, says he's looking forward to expanding the program and he's been working with his employees to connect with more organic farmers across the country to improve the supply chain for future ingredient acquisition.

"Papa John's is showing great leadership by stepping out into the organic marketplace and testing the quality and viability of the supply chain," Ewer told the Courier Journal. "They are a major influence in creating this positive change in our food system."


According to the USDA, organic food accounts for just 4 percent of all U.S. food sales.   But Ewer and Muldoon say about 13 percent of produce that is currently grown is certified organic. That number is expected to be around 20 percent in just three years.

Papa John’s customers in Lexington have responded positively to the new offerings, says Muldoon, and added that the organic toppings taste just like traditionally grown veggies used to top the pizzas of yesteryear, according to Courier Journal.

Papa John’s is the first national pizza delivery chain to announce the removal of preservatives BHA and BHT, MSG, cellulose and partially hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and synthetic colors and high fructose corn syrup.