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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Caulipower

CaulipowerHeadquarters: EncinoCEO: Gail BeckerBusiness: Cauliflower-based pizza, pizza crusts and gluten-free products2019 Revenue: $100 MillionNotable: 99% fill rate amid pandemicGrowth: 1,674% Gluten-free food producer Caulipower has not felt the sting that others in the food industry have suffered during the pandemic, using its nimbleness to ensure supermarket shelves are stocked with its cauliflower-centric products.In fact, the Encino company, ranked No. 1 on the Business Journal’s list of Fastest Growing Private Companies, has had a 99 percent fill rate this year, something incredibly difficult to do even under normal circumstances.Fill rate refers to the percentage of customer demand met through stock availability without incurring lost sales or backorders.The company’s revenue more than doubled from 2018 to 2019, increasing from $48 million to $100 million.“It is simply extraordinary in the middle of a pandemic … trying to get product on the store shelves became a herculean effort overnight,” Gail Becker, chief executive at Caulipower, told the Business Journal. “We have better fill rates than some of the largest companies in the world. It’s interesting to see how many of our retailers have really thanked us for that, rewarded us for that, because getting on the shelf is everything.”Becker likened the situation to preparing Thanksgiving dinner in eight minutes.“It was supply chains, the truckers being used to haul toilet paper — it became difficult for all of us.”So how did Caulipower pull off this stunt? Becker pointed to the company’s operations team for the company’s stocking success, adding that Caulipower’s quick pace to meet demand during the pandemic is no different than what the team had been doing before.“Caulipower has been doing everything so fast, been growing so fast and able to pivot and change and evolve so fast that we were used to working in that environment,” explained Becker. “There were probably a lot of companies that weren’t used to doing that and they got hit a little bit harder.”Caulipower products, with its latest rice bowl product available at local retailers like Gelson’s, Sprouts, and Kroger, are in 25,000 stores, and the company continues to work with about 5,000 restaurants, despite food service being curtailed due to COVID-19 restrictions.“Pizza was one of the few areas that has remained steady or in some cases increased,” explained Becker, referring to its food service partnerships. “We still sell branded pizza in regional chains around the country and we have a couple of national tests right now.”Becker chalked this up to where pizza has typically been eaten: in the home. Although there are pizza parlors or brick-and-mortar restaurants with woodfired ovens, consumers usually take their pizza home.“Sales in pizza have actually been stable or increased during the pandemic,” she said.The company started with gluten-free pizzas and pizza crust made from cauliflower, expanding to cauliflower tortillas, frozen sweet potato slices as bread substitutes, and chicken tenders with cauliflower breading.“Our tenders are about a year old now, and in that short period of time they are already a huge business. They’re a third natural tender, they’re in the national retailers, and are enjoying just incredible growth,” she said.The company’s riced cauliflower bowls are offered with baja seasonings, curry or sesame citrus flavors. The bowls were supposed to launch in March, Becker said, but got delayed to later in the year.Caulipower has been in the food delivery game too, with its products available for consumers to have delivered from Walmart.com, Kroger.com and other e-retailer.“Our pizza is twice as likely to be ordered online at Walmart than the category average,” added Becker.Although employees are working remotely right now, Caulipower’s corporate headquarters, which expanded last year by an entire suite at 16200 Ventura Blvd., will be kept intact for workers to return to next year.“People occasionally go in, but we have it just the same,” said Becker. “We’re definitely keeping the space; we feel that we will hopefully be back there in 2021, following city, county and state guidelines, of course.” – Amy Stulick

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