In honor of National Pizza Month (October), this trend article is about pizza trends and current market innovations. According to Vericast, Americans consume approximately three billion pizzas each year. The data revealed that 13% of restaurant pizza consumers opt for frozen or grocery store pizzas, while 43% of restaurant pizza consumers also purchase grocery store pizzas in a typical week. According to a Caulipower Pizza survey among 1,002 nationally represented Americans aged 18+, 98% of Americans eat pizza, and 54% of pizza-eaters say “I love pizza.” A Casey’s and FleishmanHillard study revealed that consumers are interested in pizza for breakfast. The study found that 52% of adults wish pizza was considered a more traditional breakfast food and 57% would eat breakfast more often if they could get a breakfast pizza. The frozen pizza category increased by 10.7% from the past year and reached sales of $6.825 billion. Frozen pizzas accounted for $6.774 billion, while frozen pizza crusts/dough brought in $44 million, and frozen pizza kits/toppings reported $6.4 million for the past 52 weeks, which ended on March 26, 2023, according to Circana. Over the next seven years, Grand View Research expects a 6.9% CAGR. Pizza is coming in hot with a variety of trends such as pizza crusts, toppings, robots, vending machines, and alternative formats.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CRUST
From thin crust to thick crust and variations in between, there are many forms of pizza. Some would argue that the best part of pizza is the crust, while others would disagree and say the cheese is the best part. Regardless of individuals’ preferences, brands are developing a variety of pizzas with distinct crusts. California Pizza Kitchen has added two new Croissant Inspired Thin Crust Pizzas with flaky layers. In partnership with Mike’s Hot Honey, the Uncured Pepperoni & Hot Honey pizza features a marinara-based pie topped with mozzarella cheese and uncured pepperoni and an individual serving of Mike’s Hot Honey. Bacon & Caramelized Onion highlights a buttery and creamy brie sauce topped with roasted garlic, mozzarella cheese, bacon, and caramelized onion. Double Zero Pie & Pub in Las Vegas opened in September and serves Tokyo-style Neapolitan pizzas. The “joyously bubbly and crispy crust” is created with a very finely milled double zero flour with natural starters, extended fermentation, and hand-rolling techniques to stretch the dough. According to founder Michael Vakneen, the fluffy and light crust can hold up to toppings without becoming soggy or soupy. Better-for-you frozen pizza brand Yough launched its flagship two-ingredient pizza dough made with Greek yogurt and 100% organic wheat flour. According to the brand, the Yough Dough offers lower calories and carbs and a higher protein content per serving than other plant-based and traditional pizza crusts.
Pizza toppings are often a subject of debate. No matter how you slice it, consumers enjoy a variety of toppings on their pizzas, and brands are meeting consumers’ needs. Tillamook County Creamery Association has added four frozen Crispy Stone-Fired Pizzas to its portfolio. The brand’s pizzas are topped with Tillamook’s medium yellow cheddar, whole-milk mozzarella, and Monterey Jack and available in Cheesy BBQ Chicken, Cheesy Uncured Pepperoni, Three Cheese, and Three Cheese Supreme varieties. DiGiorno debuted two new lineups: Detroit Style and Loaded Ultra-Thin Pizza. The Loaded Ultra-Thin Pizza features two options: Carnivore with pepperoni, sausage, beef, and ham, and Veggie Lovers with peppers, onions, spinach, garlic, and three types of cheese. The Detroit Style Pizza has a thick and chewy crust in Double Pepperoni, Four Cheese with Mozzarella, Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano, and Three Meat, Mozzarella Cheese, Sausage, Pepperoni and Beef variants. Inspired by #PicklePizza DiGiorno debuted a pizza made with half pickles and the other half pineapple. The limited frozen pizza is “a hand-tossed crust, creamy garlic sauce, and mozzarella cheese, plus those all-important toppings.” On September 5, consumers had a chance to get one while supplies last. The website shopdigiorno.goodnes.com sells a Pineapple Pickle printed button-up shirt, shorts, and a pickleball paddle set. To meet consumers’ growing appetite for premium pizza offerings, and in response to data that shows 50% of consumers seek out hand-tossed pizza within the restaurant pizza industry and less than 1% of frozen pizzas in the market offer it, Red Baron released Fully Loaded Hand Tossed Pizzas. The line includes “a unique golden-brown crust that’s crispy on the outside and airy on the inside” and is available in three flavors: Five Cheese Pizza, Pepperoni Pizza, and Supreme Pizza. Animal-free dairy company New Culture and James Beard Award-winning chef and La Brea Bakery founder Nancy Silverton have partnered to launch animal-free mozzarella. Silverton’s Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles will be the first restaurant in the country to serve New Culture’s cheese, beginning in 2024. The cheese will be on two new pizza recipes for the Pizzeria Mozza menu: a traditional Margherita and a Caponata Pizza with Eggplant, Tomato Confit, Pickled Onions, and Caperberries.
PIZZA ROBOTS & VENDING MACHINES
Making pizza is labor intensive and brands are turning to robotics for help. From robots that slice toppings and dispense sauce to vending machines that create a pizza from start to finish, technology drives pizza innovation and trends. Seattle-based Moto, a Filipino pizza store, recently opened its third location in Belltown. Robotics startup Picnic has created a robot pizza-making machine that dispenses sauce and topping onto Moto’s square pies, which employees then finish making. Columbus, Ohio-based Donatos known for its pepperoni pizza with 100 pepperoni slices, is testing automated machines that distribute sauce, cheese, and pepperoni on pizzas and a slicing machine that cuts the pies quickly and evenly. The pepperoni and slicing machines are rolling out, while the sauce and cheese robots are still being tested.
Nestlé brand DiGiorno is trialing two Pizza Kiosk locations at a Walmart in Colorado and the Nestlé company’s Ohio campus. The kiosks are larger-than-usual vending machines with a commercial-grade oven, and frozen, premade, 10-inch, thin-crust pizzas, which take approximately three minutes to prepare. Currently, Cheese and Pepperoni pizza options are available. Nestlé projects these vending machines could end up on college campuses, home improvement stores, and sports venues. Brix Holdings, owner of Red Mango debuted Pizza Jukebox, an automated pizza-making robot, which will be side-by-side with the Red Mango yogurt stand in Frisco, Texas, inside a Walmart. Customers can select a 7-inch or 16-inch pizza, and the robot spins the pizza, assembles the toppings, and puts it in the oven for 1 ½ or 3 ½ minutes. Canadian-based PizzaForno, an “automated pizzeria” vending machine, has been popping up in the U.S. in Georgia, Texas, California, and Alabama. Available 24/7, the pizza can be purchased either hot (cooked on site) or cold to bake at home. The pizza is offered in eight different varieties and bakes in less than three minutes. Máka Mia Pizza has introduced its Mia V4.5 Robotic Pizza Shop to the U.S. market. Inside a robotic vending machine-style unit, using a proprietary cheese blend and never-canned Italian pizza sauce, there are two stone hearth ovens that bake the pizza in three minutes. Not a robot, but an interesting new technology is Domino’s Pinpoint Delivery service, which enables customers to add a pin of their location on a map. Pizza can be delivered to no traditional addresses such as a park, beach, or sports field. Customers can track their driver’s location via GPS, receive text alerts about their delivery, and choose to turn on a visual signal on their phone to alert the delivery driver to their exact location.
LIKE PIZZA – ALTERNATIVE FORMATS
From folded pizza and snacks to crustless pizza and pizza baked pasta, pizza inspires a lot of new interpretations and alternative formats. Grana PDX in Portland specializes in Neapolitan pizza. During the day, sold through a takeout window, the pizzeria serves portafoglio “wallet-style” folded pizzas. MOD Pizza added its folded Pocket Pie to its permanent menu and comes in three varieties: Chicken Bacon Ranch, Four Cheese, and Italiano. Little Caesars introduced the 4-Quarter Calzony to its menu, which contains pepperoni, bacon, ham, and Italian sausage with a calzone-like crust. According to the press release, it’s filled with mozzarella and one meat from the center and is served with the brand’s signature Crazy Sauce for dipping. QSR Fazoli’s Pizza Baked Pasta has returned to its menu for a limited time. There are three variations: Meaty Pizza Baked Pasta, Pizza Baked Pasta, and Supreme Pizza Baked Pasta.
Conagra has introduced three new Banquet MEGA Crustless Pizzas: Pepperoni, Supreme, and Three Meat for consumers to “enjoy all the pizza toppings you crave without the crust.” UK Brand Peperami owned by Jack Link’s has added new Pizza Buns to its portfolio. The ready-to-eat Pizza Buns come in two Peperami flavors: Original and Hot and contain more than 10g of protein filled with salami, cheese, and tomato herb sauce. Papa Murphy’s Take ‘n’ Bake Pizza released a pull-apart monkey bread in two varieties. The Savory Garlic Monkey Bread is made of buttery garlic bread bites and served with a side of marinara for dipping. Totino’s and esports and gaming business FaZe Clan have teamed up to launch an Orange Chicken Pizza Roll filled with chicken in a sweet and spicy orange sauce. This is the second collaboration, last year the two brands created FaZe Clan Buffalo Chicken Pizza Rolls. Chex Mix released two new Chex Mix Remix flavors, “inspired by fans’ late-night cravings”: Cheesy Pizza and Zesty Taco. The Cheesy Pizza is made of garlic and herb Chex, pizza crust bagel chips, cheese puffs, and pizza sauce. PepsiCo’s UK brand Walkers Max Crisp collaborated with Pizza Hut on Pepperoni Feast and Texan BBQ flavored potato chips. Part of the partnership includes an on-pack promotion for consumers to receive a two-for-one pizza deal at Pizza Hut.
Watch as pizza trends continue with new pizza crusts, toppings, robots, vending machines, and alternative formats.
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