In the run-up to the 2017 International Pizza Expo, it is only appropriate that we look at the on-going rise of pizzas across the USA, and some of the opportunities that exist for the restaurant industry in 2017 and beyond.
Sales of pizzas in the US topped $44.4bn in 2015 with over 40% of people saying that they now eat pizza at least once a week. The traditional pizza-eating demographics are also changing. For example, PMQ Pizza Magazine found that 63% of pizza lovers are women, and that the millennial generation is putting different kinds of pressure on restaurants forcing them to re-think ingredients, menu offerings and in some cases, their overall brand.
Flavors & Ingredients
While a 2016 Harris Poll found that the top favorite pizza flavors are pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, cheese, onions and bacon, pineapple and peppers, there are new flavors that are making a break-through; and they’re unexpected. According to Food Service Director Magazine, crème fraiche, apples and Thai peanut sauce are becoming popular additional choices to add to a pizza. Thai-inspired pizza flavors are not the only flavors to be proving popular; Mexican, Asian and Caribbean cuisines are also rating high with consumers. However, it is clear that the firm favorites are going nowhere.
Pizza Expo Tip #1: Expand your menu and incorporate a wider choice of ingredients such as switching to Artichoke Pesto from Armanino; a delicate blend of artichokes, Romano cheese, basil, canola oil and garlic that make a delicious pizza base alternative. Visit Armanino Foods at N1613.
Pizza Expo Tip #2: Create differentiation on your menu by offering two choices of quality pepperoni. Talk to the Burke team at the Expo about their PREMORO® brand and their SWISS AMERICAN SAUSAGE CO.™ brand. Find them at N943.
Pizza Expo Tip #3: No pizza menu is complete with a sun dried tomato option. Find Traina Foods at N1270 and discuss their variety of options including Organic Sun Dried Tomatoes with their slightly sweet flavor, completely natural and preserved only with salt.
Pizza Expo Tip #4: Visit the Atalanta Booth at N227 and see Chef Antonino from Italy who will be creating artisanal pizza with Pivetti “00” Flour from Italy which is imported exclusively by Atalanta.
Customization is a favorite of millennials who want to create their own bespoke dishes by selecting their own choice of toppings. New chains of restaurants, whose models are built upon customization and consumer choice, are driving the sector. Therefore, restaurants must ensure that their menus are flexible enough to cater for the wave of change that will see consumers designing their own dishes. This means incorporating traditional favorites but adding in new, creative toppings that will guarantee variety while helping your menu to stand out.
Pizza Expo Tip #5: Include top favorite sausage but with a twist such as Italian Pork & Beef Sausage from Rose Packing. Sage or fennel seasonings deliver a rich flavor and an extra kick to pizzas. See the Rose Packing team at Booth N1173.
Pizza Expo Tip #6: Include olives from around the world courtesy of Lindsay Olives such as Californian olives, Kalamata olives and Spanish Manzanilla olives. Talk to the Lindsay Olive team at Booth N556.
Pizza Expo Tip #7: Let the customer decide on their favorite heat level and offer them branded sauces such as Bulliard’s Premium Cayenne Pepper Sauce or Bulliard’s Extra Hot Hot Sauce for variety. Visit Peppers Unlimited at Booth N1827 for further information.
There is no doubt that restaurants who have embraced online ordering are winning in the pizza sector. The rise of smartphones and confidence in online payment systems has resulted in some pizza chains being referred to as digital companies rather than restaurants. Online ordering is no longer an option. Incorporating creative menu customization and fast delivery will ensure independent restaurants are able to compete with the larger well-known chains.
Ethics & Values
Millennials are choosy. They will select their favorite brands because they share their values. This means that pizza restaurants are no longer pizza restaurants; they are a partner who shares the same values; from charitable activity to community events, those operators that appeal to the millennial generation will be guaranteed loyalty for life.
Healthful does not mean ‘healthy’. Consumers are moving towards ingredients that are locally sourced, more natural and are sustainable. They are less concerned about lower fat or lower carbs and more concerned about ingredients with fewer additives. This requires restaurants to carefully select ingredients that chime with their customers and especially with the millennial generation.
Pizza Expo Tip #8: Visit Pacific Coast Producers at N555 and talk to them about their Organic Extra Heavy Concentrated Crushed Tomatoes or one of their other high quality tomato sauces carefully prepared for pizza specialists.
Pizza Expo Tip #9: Talk to Stratas Foods at Booth N1655 about their variety of non-GMO products; from shortening to oils to pan sprays.
For those customers who won’t eat pizza for whatever reason, ensure that you cater to their tastes by incorporating menu alternatives such as gluten free or vegetarian options.
Pizza Expo Tip #10: Talk to Joseph’s Gourmet Pasta at the Expo about their range of gluten-free options such as Butternut Ravioli (Gluten Free) – Roasted Butternut blended with Parmesan cheese, brown sugar and rice crispy crumb; wrapped in par cooked gluten free pasta. Find them at Booth N1516.
The International Pizza Expo takes place from March 28th to the 30th at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas. Find our manufacturers at the following booths:
Atalanta. Booth N227
Armanino Foods. Booth N1613
Burke Corporation. Booth N943
Lindsay Olives. Booth N556
Joseph’s Gourmet Pasta. Booth N1516
Pacific Coast Producers. Booth N555
Peppers Unlimited. Booth N1827
Rose Packing. Booth N1173
Stratas Foods. Booth N1655
Traina Foods. Booth N1270