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Muhamed Abdelhack covers business and economy for The Paper. He is a communications and journalism graduate of UNM.

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In thinking about popular New Mexico foods, images of green chile breakfast burritos, chile rellenos, enchiladas and sopaipillas might come to mind, but surely never pizza—until now. WiseChoice Foods LLC, an Albuquerque-based, minority-owned and female-lead company, has announced an ongoing distribution partnership with KeHE Distributors, a national leader in wholesale food distribution.

The partnership, which comes on the heals of a 2020 distribution partnership with Kroger, will see WisePies frozen pizzas distributed in 843 grocery stores across 12 states, including New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and North Dakota. The rollout will feature various pizza types; but in traditional New Mexico style, will also include certified Hatch green chile options such as Hatch Green Chile Four Cheese Pizza and Hatch Green Chile Uncured Pepperoni Pizza (take that, Colorado!).

“WisePies Pizza is the only retail frozen pizza in the nation that features green chile. We boldly promote this New Mexican agricultural staple, and buyers love it,” said WiseChoice Foods President Season Elliott. “To showcase our New Mexican company in so many cities, states and grocery stores in less than a year during a pandemic is just phenomenal. We continue to be grateful for all of our growth due to our incredible team and supportive supply chain partners.” Elliot, who was featured recently in The Paper.’s profile of Women In Business, oversaw the brand’s initial rapid growth. These recent partnerships continue to open doors for WisePies Pizzas to be offered in major grocery chains such as Smith’s Food and Drug, Albertsons, Safeway and others, throughout the West and southwestern United States.

WisePies, which is now owned by Grants native and New Mexico businessman and entrepreneur Steven B. Chavez, started in 2014 as a single pizza and salad location in New Mexico. Over the following years, the brand saw growth throughout New Mexico and Arizona as Chavez’s ownership stake grew. In 2017 WiseChoice Foods LLC was launched to promote the frozen pizza line as “A Smarter Way to Pizza.”

The initial idea of WiseChoice’s WisePies frozen pizza line of products was developed with shifting consumer purchasing behaviors in mind that included natural, healthier choices. This initiative promised a clean label using natural foods and an elevated focus on sustainability. Through this process, the WiseChoice Foods team has removed over 200 unnatural and potentially harmful ingredients and uses recyclable retail pizza boxes printed with soy ink.

As for the future, Season Elliot sees more excitement on the horizon with the expansion of a new “Chop’d” pizza line, handheld calzones, pizza bites and more. “We are also in discussion with some additional large national retailers and expect to surpass distribution into 1,000 grocery stores by end of the summer,” said Elliot. This growth would deliver the company’s unique New Mexico style even more broadly into the Midwest and eastern states. This once-small New Mexican restaurant has found the key to success and unlimited expansion potential.

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