Pizza Fans Split Over Indulgent And Healthier Pies

PizzaStill one of the most popular foodservice destinations, pizza is trending in two directions: indulgent and better for you, noted Donna Hood, Crecca, senior director of Technomic.

“On the indulgent side, we see items such as the recently-introduced bacon cheeseburger pizza or Buffalo-style pizza. But on the better-for-you side, we’re also seeing pizza chains rolling out more thin crust pies with organic red sauce, reduced-fat mozzarella and a choice of veggie toppings. The offerings are starting to vary widely,” Crecca said.

Pizza crust variations are also on-trend in 2014. Consider Pizza Hut, which recently rolled out its hand-tossed pizza, as well as several pizza concepts offering thin-crust, Parmesan-crusted, cheese-stuffed or other crust options.

Technomic found that more than half (53%) of consumers surveyed in January 2014 would be likely to order pizza at a convenience store for lunch. C-store operators are responding to the increased demand for pizza. In fact, Technomic’s MenuMonitor noted 18 chains offering pizza on their menus in 2013, compared with 15 in 2012.  Specialty Pizza, breakfast pizza and combo meat pizza are the top three types of pizza available at c-stores, according to Techomic’s MenuMonitor, October-December 2013.  When it comes to toppings, breakfast, bacon, chicken and cheese are popular items.

Grab-No-Go Pizza
Convenience store customers want pizza with all the toppings and varieties of a pizza shop, but they also want it hot, fast and at a quality price point.
The Pantry, which operates more than 1,550 Kangaroo Express c stores in 13 states introduced a Little Caesars Pizza program in October to five locations and is set to roll out the program to an additional three locations in March 2014. The program includes the Hot-N-Ready original round pepperoni or cheese pizza, Crazy Bread, Caesar Wings and other freshly made selections.

Julie Krupa, manager of restaurant development and services at Kangaroo Express said that Little Caesars’ premium pizza at a great value resonated with The Pantry. “One of our goals is to provide our guests with a quality food experience in a convenient atmosphere,” she said.

Krupa noted that Kangaroo Express customers are especially excited about the Little Caesars Hot-N-Ready program, which includes a large $5 cheese or pepperoni pizza. “This option definitely fits within the convenience store grab-and-go mentality,” she said.

Roadrunner Markets is offering a Hunt Brothers Pizza program in four of its 92 locations. “Hunt Brothers has an offering in their program called ‘Hunk A Pizza,’ and rather than it being a slice of pizza, the hunk is about the size of a quarter of a pizza,” said John Kelly, chief operating officer and vice president of retail operations for Roadrunner Markets. “Through Hunt Brothers we also offer full-sized pizza and buffalo wings.”

Limited-time only pizzas debut through the program every 3-4 months, keeping the offering fresh and encouraging Roadrunner customers to return to try the next new pizza. Ryan Broyles, president of Roadrunner Markets added, “Pizza is just one of those things that entices customers—it’s one of the No. 1 foods that people want.”  ◆

U.S. Pizza Stores  71,856
■ Independents: 53.3%
■ Other Chains: 20.22%
■ Pizza Hut: 10.57%
■ Domino’s: 6.83%
■ Little Caesars: 4.9%
■ Papa John’s: 4.18%
Source: PMQ’s Pizza Power 2013 State of the Industry Report

U.S. Pizza Sales   $36.8 Billion
■ Independents: 39.57%
■ Other Chains: 26.52%
■ Pizza Hut: 14.68%
■ Domino’s: 9.24%
■ Papa John’s: 5.97%
■ Little Caesars: 4.02%
Source: PMQ’s Pizza Power 2013 State of the Industry Report




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