MBN Creative and El Pollo Loco team up to release the famous Pollo Bowl® into supermarkets.
After years of avoiding entry into the supermarket arena – where profit margins are razor thin – El Pollo Loco is spreading its wings into retail.
The Costa Mesa-based chicken chain has created a frozen version of its Pollo Bowl, which is now being sold in roughly 100 Costco warehouses in Southern California. It is also stocked in 600 supermarkets, including Ralphs, Food 4 Less and Smart & Final.
“We see a real opportunity because there’s no real high quality Mexican brand in the frozen food sector, said Joe Stein, El Pollo Loco’s senior vice president of strategy and innovation.
The move comes as El Pollo Loco looks for new ways to make money and increase brand awareness. Earlier this month, the chain launched steak – one of several new foods El Pollo Loco plans to add to its menu this year.
Stein said El Pollo Loco has spent two years investigating how to bring the right product to market.
It had to be something portable and easy to recreate, he added.
The chain eventually came up with a frozen version of its Pollo Bowl and pitched the idea to Costco. The chain tested it in San Diego warehouses last fall and found that it sold well.
Over the holidays, the product expanded to 100 warehouses in Southern California, including Orange County. The Costco item is sold for $13.99 and includes six, 16 oz. Pollo Bowls. The bowls sold in supermarkets are different in size and ingredients.
The grocery stores sell a 4-pack of 12-oz. bowls, that contain the exact same ingredients sold at the restaurants. Cost: $8.99-$9.99, depending on the store.
The Costco bowls offer cheese, which is not a regular topping on bowls served at restaurants. Stein said Costco insisted on adding cheese because the warehouse chain thought the bowls would sell better.