Featured photo: Many Mott Community College students, including Antownen Powell and Zyon Ivory (in photo), took part in a Campus Sampling Event for the new PizzaForno in Mott’s Curtice-Mott Complex
Written by Tanya Terry
PizzaForno in Flint hosted a Campus Sampling Event at Mott Community College (MCC) on Wednesday Sept. 14. Jason Lowder, chief marketing officer for PizzaForno, talked to the Courier about how PizzaForno is expected to have a positive impact not only on the student body at MCC, but on the Flint community as a whole.
PizzaForno offers 24/7 automated pizza. The manufacturer has 2,000 PizzaForno locations in Europe. There are currently about 40 PizzaForno locations in Canada and about 15 in North America. Besides the indoor kiosk version of the unit which launched in Mott’s Curtice-Mott Complex September 6, there is a smaller ATM version that works well for downtown and high traffic areas, as well as an outdoor fully robust portable unit for special events. Over 100 units are expected to be in the United States by the end of the fiscal year, and over 1,000 are expected in 2023.
“The founders that have the right to North America, they were actually saw the PizzaForno unit while on holiday in France,” Lowder explained. “They were blown away by it, and they struck a deal with the parent company ADL, who is a French manufacturing company, for the development rights for all of North America.”
According to Lowder, PizzaForno was considered an opportunity to solve a problem in food deserts where there’s not a lot of food options and where people don’t have the convenience of a lot of time.
A take-and-bake option is available for those who prefer to bake their pizzas at home.
“It’s also nice because the machine breaks out a pizza in three minutes,” Lowder said.
Lowder explained a robot manages the inventory, bake time and cooking, as well as moving the pizzas out of the refrigerator unit into the oven.
“We have our own commissaries where we make our hand made pizza. We make it with fresh ingredients. We supply each of our machines. We have units in Canada right now that have a pizza topping operation, where they pizza top their own pizzas right in their own area, and we have some areas where the pizzas get shipped in to them after they get flash frozen.”
There was an outdoor event at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor with music and a clown to help familiarize students there with PizzaForno. There are also units at Louisiana State University Medical School and the University of New Orleans, as well as several major universities in Canada.
There are eight different pizza options for PizzaForno users to choose from, including honey and goat cheese-a French recipe. Lowder pointed out some of the pizza options are seasonal, such as pickle pizza, a dessert pizza for Valentine’s Day and cheeseburger pizza. He said the most popular pizza is the meat lover’s.
One student who participated in the recent pizza sampling event received free pizza for a year.
Lowder also talked to the Courier about how PizzaForno is looking for brand ambassadors to tell people about the company’s offerings, which Lowder said are surprisingly healthier than some other options. For example, he said there are 12 grams of protein in the pizza’s crust. In addition, the pizzas are made without preservatives. The brand ambassadors will share these details with others.
“Students will be able to help promote on campus and work with different groups and organizations. They’ll be part of those different groups and organizations. But they’ll do different types of things to get the word out around campus that this is here and actively available. They will speak on PizzaForno’s behalf of social media. They’ll do flyer distribution, and we have all types of promotional materials we’ll be giving away.”
According to Lowder, there is not a certain number of ambassadors being sought. He said, rather, PizzaForno is simply looking for the “right” individuals.
“It solves a real estate issue because they’re only 100 sq. feet or less. But I think it gives students the opportunity to see the inner workings of a grassroots marketing company.”
Lowder shared another way the company he works for is aiming to make a difference.
“We’re leaning heavily on a campaign that we’re pushing called Pizza With a Purpose. Pizza With A Purpose gives us an opportunity to give back to people in the community. We’re going to be working with the Emergency Student Fund at Mott, the Pizza with a Purpose Partner, where on a day of the week they are selecting a percentage of pizza sales will go back to the emergency fund. We’ve worked with the Humane Society. We’ve worked with Ronald McDonald Charities. We’ve worked with a lot of other groups and organizations and even can work with some great student group organizations. We’ve worked with different bands and choirs and sport teams that need to make money for something.”
Lowder informed the Courier PizzaForno is building relationships with other groups and organizations locally as well.
He said the PizzaForno unit at Mott is not necessarily just for students, but available for anyone.