Perfecting Pizza


$38 Billion Estimated total annual sales in pizza restaurants.

70,000 Number of pizza restaurants across the country.

$19.6 Billion Total revenue accounted for by the top four pizza chains
(Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Papa John’s, Little Caesars)

Source: National Association of Pizzeria Operators

To do well in 2010 with pizza, convenience store operators need to make sure they do pizza well.

“We need to start with the basics,” said Jack Cushman, vice president of foodservice for Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes Inc. in Canastota, N.Y. “You’ve got a built-in c-store market for impulse purchasing. That’s really why the c-store exists, so you have to make it available immediately. The way to do that is merchandise it at the register or within the line of sight of the consumers when they come in. Then package it in a way that it is portable.”

Cushman, who oversees 83 stores, pointed out that according to most estimates, “85% of the population likes pizza, so make it easy for them to make that decision. That’s impulse buying 101: you want to allow them to make the purchase without thinking about it, then not be disappointed. Is there a napkin available? A plate? Is it too messy? Is there paper to cover it? Or is it already in a plate so they can take it with them? Whatever you want to do you’ve got to have that taken care of.”

The No. 1 mistake that operators make, in Cushman’s view, is letting product sit around in a dry heat environment such as a heat chute. “Pizza isn’t worth a damn after about 30 minutes,” he stressed. “If you’re going to make the stuff  and leave it out there to dry out, every week your sales are going to go lower and lower and lower. That doesn’t just hurt one store, it affects the entire industry. The hurts how people view us as a whole.”

Food for Thought

Survey Says…

According to a January 8, 2010 survey conducted by the National Association of Pizzeria Operators (NAPO), December is the most popular month for pizza sales with 27% of members listing it as the busiest month. November ranked last with just 3% of operators listing it as their strongest month. Complete results were:

January 7%
February 10%
March 5%
April 6%
May 8%
June 5%
July 7%
August 4%
September 4%
October 14%
November 3%
December 27%

Selling food, Cushman emphasized, “is not selling retail items. I can stack an endcap full of Pepsi and it can sit there for a long time and the quality isn’t going to diminish. That’s really one of the most difficult things when you try and sell food in a retail environment—quality is critical. You’ve got to take steps to ensure that it’s a quality product when it’s made straight through to when it’s consumed.”

Convenience stores, according to Angela Phelan, a principal with Clarion Group, a foodservice consulting firm in Maplewood, N.J., are using a premade product which needs to be served as hot as possible. “If they’re going to have a hold time for pizza, it’s got to be held on a counter that has good heat supply so that it keeps the product at a temperature that’s optimal,” she said. “Present it in a place that elevates your foodservice program and make sure the pizza display is attractive and inviting.” n


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