A trend with no end
After more than a century in the mainstream of American taste, pizza’s in the midst of a renaissance. Drawing on every conceivable culinary vision, tech innovation and marketing breakthrough, pizza’s power is palpable. To understand how to best carve out an unmistakable edge in a wildly competitive marketplace, keep a constant eye on the pie.
Almost half of consumers want pizza establishments to offer more authentic pizzas, according to Technomic. High quality ingredients, meticulous preparation and respect for legacy all play a role in boosting brand image and reputation. Expectations are high: A perfectly cooked crust, freshly made ingredients and rapid service are considered by diners to be basics of the pizza experience.
Faster, better, more personalized.
The popularity of fast-fired, customizable pizzas is driving more industry growth, with nearly two thirds of consumers interested in the concept. How to capitalize on the trend without an 800°F oven in your kitchen? Offer customization with a wide variety of toppings and sauces, as well as whole pie and by-the-slice options.
Healthy & sustainable choices
While pepperoni and sausage remain number one and two on the list of pizza topping faves, mushrooms, green peppers and olives round out the top five, and an eager new batch of plant-forward contenders may soon dominate. Gaining ground with growing numbers of flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan pizza lovers are:
- Giardiniera. Pluck this combination of pickled peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery and olives from the top of an Italian beef sandwich to the top of your pizza for a spectacular new taste. Extend the pickled vegetable theme with a classic cucumber version, its tartness counterbalanced by a mild mozzarella or creamy ricotta cheese base.
- Caramelized onions bring their umami goodness to pizza, surrounded by an array of healthy greens such as spinach, asparagus and kale, and complemented with a roasted garlic white sauce or freshly made marinara.
- Sweet piquante peppers or zesty Calabrian chili peppers, one of the fastest-growing, non-protein toppings for pizza, spiking 80% on menus in the past four years (Datassential MenuTrends).
- Corn, basic or gourmet, stalks or precut frozen, roasted or grilled, paired with cotija cheese and cilantro for a memorable new offering.
- "Meaty" options like eggplant, cabbage and jackfruit paired with bold sauces.
- Fruits like strawberries and pears coupled with goat cheese or ricotta.
- Microgreens, baby plants with stems that are significantly more edible than adult versions, including cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, watercress, arugula and garlic.
- Zero-waste toppings, such as "ugly" produce or food scraps to highlight your commitment to sustainability.
The world on a pizza platter.
Global flavors, from Africa, Peru, Ethiopia, the Philippines, India and more are finding a welcome home base on pizza. Twenty-seven percent of diners are interested in global mashups on pizza, and proof is in these successful spins:
- Bombay Pizza House in Los Angeles offers Indian-inspired pizza with toppings such as chicken tikka, butter chicken, paneer sauce, green chiles and ginger
- Korean-fried chicken pizza at Entente in Chicago
- Crab rangoon pizza at Fong’s Pizza in Iowa, termed “incredible” by television food personality Alton Brown
Keeping it sweet.
Accents such as honey, agave, natural raw honey or the basic plastic bear are all increasingly seen on pizzas from high-end to mid-level slice house.
Pizza day and night.
Dinner and late-night pizza dining reign, but breakfast pizzas are now one of today’s hottest trends.
A driving force.
Third party delivery, through services like Grub Hub, Uber and Amazon are proving of great value to independent pizza operators. Mobile pizzerias are also on the move, with more sophisticated and efficient food trucks and trailers attracting both weekend pizzaiolos and brick-and-mortar owners looking to extend their business.
What’s hot at the hot 100 independent pizza operators.
- 99% use a POS system
- 97% serve salad
- 89% serve appetizers
- 81% serve sandwiches
- 79% serve wine
- 77% serve beer
- 75% cater events
- 63% serve pasta
- 50% sell slices
- 49% sell spirits
- 49% offer online ordering
- 34% offer take-n-bake
Source: Pizza Today