Crust and SumoSalad win recognition as healthy alternatives drive growth

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 26th June 2008

Crust Gourmet Pizza Bars and SumoSalad have confirmed their reputations as retailers to watch following the NRA American Express Rewards for Excellence last night.

The awards, organized by the National Retail Association (NRA), were held for the 14th time, with Crust presented with a specially created encouragement award in the Best Food Retailer category after the judges found it very hard to split Crust and SumoSalad.

The competition for Best Food Retailer incorporated a strong list of up and coming franchises, with Boost Juice Bars, Deli Fresco, Dreamy Donuts, Healthy Habits, Pizza Capers and Ten 10 Eats joining Crust and SumoSalad as finalists.

It is no surprise to see many of the finalists operating franchises that promote healthier alternatives to traditional fast food, as it is representative of a growing trend in the food industry. Such has been the success of healthy take away food creations that six of the fastest growing franchises in Australia are food retailers that have taken a healthy approach.

Crust Gourmet Pizza Bars epitomise the trend with the resounding success of their pizza outlets – the burgeoning franchise has grown from eight to 18 stores in the past twelve months alone and has plans to expand to 50 by the end of 2009. Crust is also a finalist in the Food Challenge Award’s Health & Wellbeing Category, while founder Costa Anastasiadis is a Victorian finalist for this year’s Ernst & Young ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ Award.

Crust was the first company from the pizza industry to gain the Heart Foundation’s ‘tick of approval’ and, according to Mr Anastasiadis, the phenomenal success of their Healthier Choice Pizza range indicates the desire for customers to have healthier options. “We launched the Tick approved pizzas because Australians eat 190 million take-away pizzas each year, but there were no healthier options available within the take-away pizza industry,” he said. “The success of this range has propelled Crust on the path to success and this encouragement award recognises our future potential. We are proud that we have been able to show the pizza industry that it is possible to offer a healthier product.”

Concerns are growing about the obesity epidemic in Australia and consumers appear to be demanding improved food options. The strength of the trend is indicated by research from the Heart Foundation, which found 88% of consumers are of the belief that food retailers have a social responsibility to provide healthier options.

With such a growth in consumer demand for healthy alternatives, those who have adapted to changing preferences have proven very successful, and many established fast-food restaurants have sought to update their menus to ensure they don’t get left behind by the new competition.