Eyeing the pizza pie

Pizza consumption continues to rise. More than four in 10 (41 percent) consumers polled say they're now eating pizza once a week, compared to 26 percent just two years ago, reports RestaurantNews.com. Pizza consumption has increased over 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.


"Consumers increasingly view pizza as the 'go-to' food when they don't feel like cooking," says Technomic Executive Vice President Darren Tristano. "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."


Technomic's Pizza Consumer Trend Report finds: 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.


Some 49 percent of consumers purchase 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.