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Pizza & Healthy Choices

Pizza makes people fat. Pizza is a nutritious food, especially for children who eat a limited number of items. Which is true? Both.

With all the focus on diet, health and obesity in our society, Americans receive many reports, studies and opinions on these topics. The problem is that many of the findings conflict. Several years ago, a study concluded that coffee is bad for you. More recently, researchers found that two cups of coffee a day ward off Alzheimer’s disease. What are we suppose to believe? What are we suppose to eat?

The truth is, pizza is a healthy, nutritious food. It has protein, calcium, and a good balance from all the major food groups. It borrows ingredients from the uber-healthy Mediterranean diet, so often touted today. So how can the much-maligned pizza industry reclaim a healthy perception, no matter what style it serves? Here is a review sheet. Make sure you’re hitting all these bases.

Promote the good

Pizza is a platform, obviously: As an operator, you can make it healthy or not; consumers will choose. Your job is to offer enough healthy choices that people see your restaurant as an option and do not immediately conclude it is junk food. Your task to this end is to meet the customer where they are, online and in the physical world.

As an example, a key word campaign driven off “healthy pizza” attracts consumers who seek that experience. Live-world promotions include banners on your building, bus ads and door hangers. Look at your coupons: do they promote one pizza for $10 or “vegetarian pizza, our healthiest choice, only $10?”

Target parents 

Kids still drive pizza decisions and are less likely to have concerns about health issues. Your healthy messages must resonate with their parents. Many parents would gladly opt for a chicken Caesar salad so they can be satisfied, and the kids get what they want too.

Pre-empt the veto

Just as important of an “ancillary” audience is the veto voter, the one person in a party of four who shakes their head and says, “Let’s get something besides pizza.” They may be thinking “healthier,” though the nutritional profile of alternative food may not even be the case.

Therefore, at least offer non-pizza entrees that do not require additional equipment or a chef-quality staff. Pizza Hut successfully rolled out pasta dishes using pre-cooked pasta that only requires heat and sauce. Several stuffed pasta manufacturers sell pre-made raviolis that also have a heat and eat application.

Wishing you success in pizza – Ed

Ed Zimmerman is a pizza industry veteran and President of Pizza.com, the number 1 web portal that connects consumers to pizzerias. His almost four decades of foodservice experience includes food manufacturing and distribution leadership, food industry technology, marketing services and restaurant and grocery operations management.

User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Mary jo Beniger
    109813167
    Some pizza is better 4 U than others. Some pizza is better 4 Kids than others. Watch the "sugars". Add some veggies. Watch the fats. Which fats are used? Are any healthy items added to replace or better balance the carbs? EG: Organic Ground Flax Seed, Gluten Free, "not sugar added to sauce, or crust". Is this something a diabetic can eat? Yes, the costs increase by doing these things, but who said "pizza had to be cheap?"
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