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Domino's adds reduced fat pizza for schools

Domino’s Pizza has introduced a reduced fat "Smart Slice" pizza for delivery to schools, the chain said Monday.

The pizza, which is made with white whole wheat and has fewer calories, fat and sodium than Domino's regular pizza, is in place in 120 school districts, a number the chain hopes to double within a year. The Smart Slice is not available outside of schools, a spokesman said.

Patrick Doyle, chief executive of the 9,169-unit chain based in Ann Arbor, Mich., said the pizza was developed to meet more stringent nutritional guidelines for school lunches recently proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“This is a new approach to delivering pizza to schools, and we are extremely excited about the potential of Domino’s Smart Slice,” Doyle said in a statement. “We are pleased with the launch, and the feedback from school districts has been very positive, which makes us believe the upside is tremendous. … These freshly baked pizzas can help schools meet or exceed nutritional requirements and goals, while appealing to kids with great taste.”

Domino’s cited research from The NPD Group that stated about 93 percent of schools serve frozen pizza for lunch and that only about one in four children like the taste of that pizza. School districts serving Smart Slice said the chain’s brand power and ability to bake pizzas fresh and deliver them helped schools break through to their students at lunchtime.

“We have been conscious that pizza can be perceived as not healthy, and Domino’s Smart Slice solves that problem,” said Brent Craig, director of nutrition services in Douglas County, Colo., a school district that participated in the test. “Pizza is without a doubt our students’ favorite food, and serving this gives us an option that is nutritious — not to mention, our students love it. It’s a great win-win for us.”

While the new product at participating stores will produce sales around lunchtime, Domino’s sees Smart Slice as more of a local-store marketing tool than an incremental-sales driver, and the chain has not had to make significant investments in extra staffing to handle the initiative, said spokesman Chris Brandon.

“This is not going to have a major impact on how we approach dayparts in the core business,” Brandon said. “It’s a separate thing that we’re establishing with a totally different product. It probably varies store by store, and we hope it gets to the point where the stores need to amp up for it, because that means Smart Slice is a significant piece of the business … and the stores are more active in their community.”

Domino’s also is trying to take a role in promoting healthy lifestyles through its partnership with school districts as well as Dairy Management Inc. and its nutrition subsidiary, National Dairy Council. The chain has worked with those groups to create a new foundation developed to foster nutrition and physical-fitness activities and awareness in schools. For the foundation’s flagship program, “Fuel Up To Play 60,” Doyle serves on the board of directors and Domino’s chief marketing officer, Russell Weiner, has been retained as a strategic marketing consultant.

“The team effort approach and support we have realized in collaborating with school districts and nutrition experts has reaffirmed that Domino’s is doing the right thing,” said Steve Clough, Domino’s director of school lunch sales. “Nothing provides nutrition for kids if they don’t eat it — so we strove to find a terrific balance of nutrition and great taste that we can’t wait for more people to try.”

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected].

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