Part of what you're paying for with the Caputo is shipping from Canada (for a considerable percentage of the flour) and shipping to the U.S., both of which have no impact on flour quality. I'm not necessarily saying it's General Mills, but if an American miller could, rather than ship flour back and forth to Europe (and other parts of the world), just mill North American wheat to Neapolitan standards, it would be comparable to Caputo at a lower price.
I bet you would be surprised how little of the cost of a bag of Caputo is ocean freight. Ocean freight is very inexpensive per pound on densely packable, heavy cargo such as wheat and flour.
General Mills is not Forno Bravo. They have a humongous R&D department. They should know Caputo like the back of their hand- and their equally numerous and well paid marketing folks should grasp the fact that if the GM Neapolitan flour can't bake up the same way as Caputo, people won't buy it.
No, they should know that people who use Caputo probably wonít switch to it. That doesnít mean other pizzerias that donít use Caputo for one reason or another (cost, availability, etc.) wonít buy it. Caputoís share of the total US pizza market is miniscule. How many pizzerias donít use Caputo simply because itís not available? Houston is the fourth largest city in the US, and not a single distributor here carries Caputo Pizzeria. You can get it from Dallas Ė for $45/bagÖ GM has one of the largest foodservice distribution networks in the country. I doubt there is a single broadline foodservice distributor that isnít getting multiple trucks from GM weekly.
At least, in theory, someone should grasp these basic concepts over at GM. Whether or not this common sense rises high enough to reach the decision makers, we shall see. As angry as I am at GM for their lack of forthrightness, though, I'm not completely giving up hope on the flour.
Enough already with the righteous indignation.
If you were GM, you probably wouldnít disclose the W to Norma either. If she was the Senior Vice President of R&D at Dominoís or Pappa Johns, then maybe you would in the larger context, but if Iím right about why they donít disclose it, you have zero incentive to discuss it with some random person Ė let alone publish it. My guess is that they can significantly reduce the cost of the flour by loosening up the specs. By doing so, they would greatly expand the wheat that can be used (and they arenít bidding against Caputo for the same wheat). This and efficient production and distribution are how you meaningfully lower cost Ė not by avoiding ocean freight. If the flour performs and is reasonably consistent, who cares? Why do you need to know the W if they are giving you free flour to try?
Just like Italian ovens don't possess any special voodoo that makes them the only ovens that can produce great Neapolitan pizza, Italian millers don't have a monopoly on cutting edge milling science. All it takes is someone to understand how the Neapolitans are milling their wheat and mimic it- and this new product is proof that a pretty big R&D department is at least trying to achieve this goal.
No, it doesnít prove anything of the sort. It suggests that GM sees a profitable market for the flour, and that doesnít necessarily mean they need to take a single bag of Caputo business. They probably think they will, but I bet that is not the core of the business case for the new flour. If they were trying to mimic the Neapolitans, it would be 00, they would supply the full rheological specifications, and they would be knocking at the door of the AVPN. GM is not here with this flour to pay homage to Neapolitan tradition. GM sees the growing market for wood fired pizza, and they know Caputo (or any other Neapolitan flour for that matter) doesnít now and likely never will have the distribution to be a competitor in most markets. My guess is this is the thought behind the flour. The target is the guy making wood fired pizza with AP not Caputo.
In this end, it probably comes down to marketing. Caputo doesnít even rise to the level of a pimple on GMís butt. How many people are there in the US selling Caputo? Zero? I doubt that Fred at Orlando is making many sales calls. GM has at least one and probably multiple reps in every market. GM runs promotions and pays sales incentives to distributor sales people. GM has rebate programs for customers. Outside of NYC, very few broadline distributors have or need a relationship with Caputo. They all have a relationship with GM, and GM pays them $millions in slotting fees, marketing fees, rebates, and other sheltered income. GM will get distributor support. Caputo wont. I bet there isn't a single broadline distributor and few specialty distributors outside of NYC and a couple other markets that wouldn't love to stop carrying Caputo if they carry it. Small vendors are just a pain in the rear.
My guess is that there is ample opportunity for this product in areas where Caputo is not available, but where Caputo is available, if the flour can come even close to Caputo, broadline reps will be undercutting the heck of the specialty guys selling Caputo to try to get business they donít currently have. A few may switch, but many wonít even if it is just as good and less expensive. Caputo is a powerful name in some markets. Itís a known quantity. Itís may not be worth risking your reputation over a few bucks/bag of flour. GM knows this. I highly doubt they are basing their success with this product on NYC.