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I usually see the trend pieces in December with loads of lists, “Top 10 Trends for …” or “Chef’s Predict the Trends …” The restaurant industry has hundreds of bloggers that predict what is hot, what is not and how to stay on trend. That is great for tablecloth dining houses in upscale urban neighborhoods, but what about pizza?
Pizzerias should stay on trend with the larger foodservice world but we also have our own unique industry that mixes traditional with modern. I surveyed a number of these trends and choose four worth exploring for the pizza industry; smaller portions for smaller prices, artisan cheeses, local produce and social media.
Smaller portions for smaller prices
January is traditionally the time when people (this writer included) recommit to making THIS year, the year I lose that 10 pounds. Pizza is a natural target for those that perceive pizza as loaded with fat and calories. Solution: It is your job to remind people that pizza is simply a platform that can be as healthful as the consumer chooses. Promote this headline: Stay on your weight plan with our Personal Sized, Reduced Cheese Vegetable Pizza. Create a smaller size with a killer price. The reduced cheese allows you to manage the food cost and the perception.
Similar to above, specialty cheeses pack a lot of flavor in a small package. A few ounces of an artisan cheese will cost more per pound but you can use much less and keep the cheese cost of your offer the same. Look online at gourmet pairings. One example, Taleggio is exciting with a high fat content that gives it a creamy, semi-soft texture, great with bacon. Pair with a salad and a glass of Merlot for dine in customers and watch lighter eaters line up.
This is the easiest, least expensive way to stay on the two hottest food trends, local and sustainable. Visit local farm markets (it is fun) and buy produce from a farmer. You can merchandise your pizza using the farmer as a celebrity. Promotion: Try our Farmer Billy’s Roasted Squash Pizza. Billy’s family has grown squash and onions in Hillside County since 1912. More attention to local also means more attention to food safety and product traceability.
Ignore this one at your peril. Face it; large groups of your customers are online with Facebook, Twitter, etc. Simply mailing coupons and handing out menus will not build your business; you need both strategies, online and offline. Make a New Year’s resolution to read one book on the topic. Attend a seminar or webinar on the topic and get comfortable. It may seem like a risk to begin but failure to innovate is the biggest risk of all.
Start the New Year with positive thoughts and good plans, running a business in today’s environment requires a great attitude and optimism.
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.