Pizza: A Favorite with Even More Potential

Written by: Smithfield Culinary Insights Team

Pizza is an undisputed favorite. Its popularity has surged during the pandemic, and the opportunity just keeps growing. Room for expansion includes new demand for appetizers and handhelds, and an increasing interest in healthier options.

Want stats? Forty-four percent of consumers eat pizza at least once per week, with takeout dominating. But interest in dine-in and food truck pies are on the rise.

As far as toppings go, you can’t go wrong with meat. It leads the way, with 54% preferring meat lovers’ pizza, and a whopping 62% sticking with pepperoni.* And while there’s always some desire for variety with crust and sauces, the classic deep dish with marinara and mozzarella is easily the most popular. So don’t be afraid to change things up here and there, but keep the basics on the menu.

With pizza being so popular, how do you stand out in the crowded marketplace? Consider variety: there’s a surge in demand for unique toppings and ingredients, including an interest in seasonal toppings. Also, try luring customers in with specialty pizzas they can personalize—chef-designed pizzas are in demand, but 33% of consumers would like to customize them.*

Thinking beyond pizza? Shareable options lead the way. Garlic knots and mozzarella sticks are the most desired items, with salad not far behind.*

What about on-the-go options? After being limited in activity for so long, people are out and about again. Think about how to keep up with them, with items that can be consumed on the go. One possibility? Calzones. Sales have risen almost 30% over the past four years at non-ethnic, independent, fast-casual restaurants.*

And while pizza is an undeniable favorite, its indulgent nature can be limiting for some consumers. If there were healthier options, 28% strongly agree they would eat pizza more often. This is a huge opportunity. But what does it include? Fully half of consumers would like restaurants to offer more natural ingredients. And almost 30% would go for low-carb pizza options.* So, always ensure that you call out your natural and organic offerings.

Finally, consumers find the crust the most important aspect of the pizza. And 25% of them are strongly interested in crusts made with alternatives to wheat flour. Other options to consider? Go for a cauliflower crust, which 15% of consumers say they’d be interested in.* Or try out an almond flour crust, or even an Italian sausage crust!

Clearly, pizza is great for your bottom line, with ample room for creativity and growth. Express yourself and draw in the sales!

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*Technomic Pizza CTR 2020

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