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Innovation, convenience drive pizza consumption increase

More than four in 10 (41 percent) consumers polled in a recent survey by market research firm Technomic say they're now eating pizza once a week, compared to 26 percent two years ago.

Pizza consumption has increased throughout the past two years as leading players revamp menus to include more innovative specialty pizzas, gourmet ingredients and items beyond pizza that help operators drive traffic, according to the report.

As increased consumer confidence leads some to trade up within the pizza category, others still feeling the pinch are attracted to the special offers and coupons that chains are rolling out as well as generally less expensive, yet high quality, take-and-bake and frozen pizza offerings.

"Consumers increasingly view pizza as the 'go-to' food when they don't feel like cooking," said Darren Tristano, Technomic executive vice president. "Operators can emphasize convenience in their marketing message, positioning pizza as an easy, convenient and affordable meal solution that will appeal to an entire group or family. It's a message that resonates with many customers."

To help operators and others aligned with the foodservice industry more effectively identify opportunities for growth and gain a competitive advantage, Technomic has developed the Pizza Consumer Trend Report.

Some key findings of the report include:

  • Combo-meat varieties and calzone-style stuffed pizzas stand out as growth areas at limited-service restaurants (LSRs). At full-service restaurants (FSRs), there has been slight growth in the number of veggie/garden and combo-meat pizzas;
  • Chicken's adaptability contributes to its widespread use as the top listed protein topping in the full-service segment and third most-frequently listed protein in limited-service, largely due to barbeque and Buffalo chicken varieties;
  • The latest menu trends call for authenticity, from Neapolitan, Sicilian and other regional Italian interpretations, to depth-of-flavor preparations, such as hearth-baked, wood-fired, coal and brick-oven cooking;
  • 37 percent of respondents order pizza from non-pizza limited-service and fast casual restaurant locations once a month, signaling room for growth for these concepts and a potential threat for LSR pizza chains;
  • 49 percent of consumers are purchasing pizza from a grocery store once a month, making it the second leading foodservice source for pizza, surpassed only by LSR pizza restaurants (71 percent).

All foodservice pizza purchases have increased over the past two years, but carryout and dine-in pizza occasions have increased the most; 68 percent of consumers now order carryout pizza once a month or more, followed by 45 percent who say they order pizza for dine-in.

Technomic's Pizza Consumer Trend Report utilizes Technomic's MenuMonitor online database to provide an in-depth look at how leading and emerging chain operators menu and position pizza.

Read more about trends and statistics.

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