Papa John's organic Photos courtesy of Papa John's

Papa John’s tests organic ingredients

Test in Lexington sources produce from farms in several states

The Louisville-based pizza chain is testing organic ingredients available in locations in its Lexington market. The company said the test is “an important first step in considering the viability” of using organic ingredients on a larger scale. 

The test involves four organic toppings: Roma tomatoes, green peppers, yellow onions and mushrooms. Papa John’s is working with Green Bean Delivery to source organic products from certified organic farms across the country, including Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Oregon, California and Indiana.

“Our customers want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced,” Sean Muldoon, chief ingredient officer at the company, said in a statement. He noted that the chain has been working aggressively to remove artificial ingredients from its menu. He said moving into organic produce is “a natural progression.” 

Restaurant chains have unleashed an arms race, of sources, in a bid for younger consumers who want “clean” menus with no artificial ingredients. McDonald’s Corp., for instance, generated sales of its Chicken McNuggets last year after removing artificial ingredients from the chicken.

More recently, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. said it removed additives from its tortillas. And Panera Inc. said it would start posting signs telling customers about the caloric and sugar contents in its drinks. 

Organic would be a major step for a large restaurant, but the market for such produce is growing. In 2015, for instance, sales of organic fruits and vegetables reached $14.4 billion in sales, and almost 13 percent of the produce sold in the U.S., according to the Organic Trade Association.

Papa John’s noted that more than half of American households purchase organic produce. 

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

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