Delicious, hot ‘n cheesy, pizza might have started in Italy but it’s America’s favorite food. Here are some fast facts about pizza:
- Ninety-three percent of Americans eat pizza at least once a month. Forty-one percent eat pizza at least once a week, which is up from 26 percent just two years ago.i
- There are an estimated 70,000 pizzerias in America.ii
What do these facts tell us? First, Americans seriously love pizza, and their love is continuing to grow. Second, because of the country’s love for this food, businesses have cropped up in response and the market has become saturated. That means there is some fierce competition out there.
So what is a savvy operator to do to keep their pies ahead of the competition? When it comes to pizza ingredients, there are two main trends to watch.
Unique ingredients: You don’t have to do something as crazy as making a hot dog-stuffed crust to pique customers’ interest in your pizza. The beauty of unique toppings is that they can range in appeal from All-American to artisan and gourmet. Here is a look at some of the new, unique ingredients seen in pizza shops, both chains and independents, around the nation:
- Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza: From Papa Murphy’s, this pie features a burger sauce created from ketchup and mustard instead of marinara. For toppings you’ll get: mozzarella, ground beef, bacon, onion, Roma tomatoes, dill pickle chips and a sprinkle of fresh cheddar.
- La Nortena Pizza: Pizza Patrón occasionally features a limited-time offer that showcases a particular region of Mexico. The La Nortena pizza comes with ingredients typical from taquerias in the area: barbacoa, cilantro, onion, and tomatoes.
- Cobb Salad Pizza: Uncle Maddio’s is now featuring this summertime special, with Romaine lettuce tossed in yogurt ranch dressing bedded on a garlic-infused crust. The pizza is topped with diced tomatoes, bacon, hard-boiled egg and grilled chicken.
Natural ingredients: Some pizzerias try to differentiate with unique toppings, while others differentiate by offering traditional ingredients of a higher quality. According to a recent Technomic study, two out of five pizza eaters say they are looking for healthier pizza options.iii This includes whole grain crusts as well as all-natural or organic toppings and sauces. Operators can experiment with different flours and grains, from whole-wheat to multi-grain to ancient spelt or amaranth. They can appeal to locavores by sourcing ingredients from nearby farms or entice the health-conscious with nitrate-free meats. Here’s a look at some pizzerias that have found success by using natural ingredients:
- Naked Pizza: Naked Pizza uses all-natural ingredients and a highly-specialized 10-grain crust. Not only does their crust feature healthy grains like brown rice, quinoa and oats, but it also contains probiotics and prebiotic agave fiber. These healthy bacteria aid with digestion and agave fiber adds a slight hint of sweetness, making this a crust like no other.
- Pizza Fusion: This Fort Lauderdale-based company started with a mission to serve healthy, delicious pizza as well as support more sustainable business. Seventy-five percent of their ingredients are organic, including the white pizza crust. They also offer a multi-grain and gluten-free crust to accommodate the growing number of customers with gluten intolerances.
- Sazza: Here in Colorado we have the delightful Sazza, which sources its ingredients from local and sustainable businesses. Most of the food is certified organic, and they even feature reused furniture, uniforms and silverware that were donated by customers. That gives the restaurant a unique, mismatched look in addition to keeping with their sustainable mission. Oh yeah, and the pizza is delicious, too.
The pizza industry is both vast and highly competitive. With a pizza parlor on every corner it might seem impossible to open up a shop that will grab any attention, but with a little innovation and integrity it should be easy to get yourself a slice of that pie.