How to Win the Pizza Game
Nearly everyone loves pizza. That’s not an opinion. Datassential reports 91 percent of consumers love or like pizza and are very likely to order it from a restaurant menu. Needless to say, operators would be wise to satisfy the demand. But beyond just being a recognizable, revered choice, pizza is a blank canvass for innovation.
The question is, how do you get it right?
Chef Craig Claude, a member of Schwan’s Chef Collective, and the corporate chef and culinary services manager at Schwan’s Food Service, Inc., as well as Sara Wight, the company’s senior manager consumer insights, took some time to chat with Sapore about where restaurants should turn to boost their pizza offerings.
With so many restaurants serving pizza, what are some ways, from an ingredients standpoint, you can stand out?
A great tasting pizza matters to consumers, and quality and freshness are important drivers of this. Quality shows up in many different ways, such as what’s in the product, how/when it was made, who made it, how it’s packaged/stored, and how it is prepared/served. A few examples of this could be communicating the story of the sourcing behind the products, having visible cues on quality through the ingredients used or seeing the product being made right in front of you. Operators can also stand out by delivering a consistent experience and product every time.
What are some outside-the-box toppings people might not expect?
Eggs are showing up on more and more pizzas. Poached, fried, baked on the pizza or scrambled added as an after bake topping. I recently saw a Dill Pickle pizza, using a garlic, dill oil for the sauce, Canadian bacon, several layers of sliced dill pickles and mozzarella cheese.
What trends have you seen in the space? Do the classics still win or are customers looking for something different?
More plant based ingredients will be appearing on pizza, just as they are in other parts of our diets. Cheese and pepperoni are still the top pizza’s being consumed. Today’s consumer wants customized pizza, topped with their favorite toppings.
The classics are still core to the menu—cheese and pepperoni are always on top! Younger consumers are interested in discovering new flavors in addition to the classics. Having a few rotating varieties can help drive excitement and keep consumers’ interest.
How should restaurants approach the make-your-own menu versus curating some options for guests?
Operators need to pay attention to what their customers are asking for and make sure they provide them with multiple options.
Have a mix of traditional options listed and still allow for consumers to customize an offering if they choose. We’ve seen that consumers will often stick to traditional favorites, even when they choose their own toppings. Sometimes the process can be overwhelming, so streamlining to show a few favorite options can make the process easier too. Key consumer benefits of made to order include: a freshly baked pizza, being able to choose your own fresh ingredients, and the ability to customize.
Looking ahead, what trends do you think could be big for pizza in the future?
Pay attention to cultural food and ingredient trends. Understand who your customers are and what are they looking for and asking for.
From a cost perspective, are there some tips and tricks operators can deploy to maximize pizza sales in regards to toppings?
I think we are seeing more eggs on pizza because they are an inexpensive protein that can be added to any pizza. Also, pay attention to all of the new plant based toppings for use on pizzas, customers will be asking for them!
Repurposing ingredients operators already have on hand to make a new pizza offering, is a great option. An operator can take leftover protein or veggies from another meal—and repurpose it into a new flavor on a pizza. This is a need we’ve seen with operators in non-commercial cafeterias and pizza is a great option to be able to repurpose multiple different ingredients.