Pizza remains, and most likely always will, an American staple and favorite. In today’s marketplace, the supermarket deli and foodservice departments have positioned themselves to give retailers all the competition they can handle, but there is still room for grocery stores to gain some competitive advantage. Supermarket delis and foodservice operations need only a minimal investment and a few tweaks to compete with specialty pizza retailers on a more level playing field. Traditional pizza in the deli has been competitive for a while, but there are ways for the supermarket to step up its game.

“Ask your regular customers and sample various pizzas to figure out what will sell best and bring back the most profit. Then go with it,” says John Arena, Professor of History and Culture of Pizza at The University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

The adaptability and endless possibilities for innovation make it plausible to increase revenue greatly just by developing a nice dough and adding toppings. Stuffed pizza, deep-dish pizza-style loaves, calzones and strombolis represent already existing ways to incorporate fresh ideas for pizza depending on a supermarket’s clientele.  However, there are a few trends that should work regardless of your location.

Globally Inspired

The foodie trend in America has taken over the food world in every segment. The millennial generation has grown up connected to the world and now, as adults, the millennials view ethnic dishes as something normal. Cater to this new generation of shoppers by offering pizzas with a worldly flavor. Flavors like Asian and traditional Italian lend themselves well to pizza and will bring the millennial consumer to the deli and food service departments.


Flatbreads have been trending in the food world for some time and have now hit the pizza hard. “About 60% of the incremental growth for pizza was due to strength in flatbread pizzas," says Peter Reidhead, vice president of strategy and insights at GuestMetrics. A flatbread pizza gives a foodie shopper a reason to order pizza at the grocery store and flatbread crusts go well with any and all gourmet toppings you could offer.

Whole and Made-to-Order

Compete with the chains and restaurants by offering the same things that they offer. Allow shoppers to place an order for a carry out pizza while they grocery shop in the center store. "We're starting to see a 'better pizza' category. These pizzas are made to order and this is really an area pizza hasn't seen before, but it's what consumers want," says Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic.

Develop a list of available toppings from ingredients that the store stocks. Fresh vegetables are an easy addition to your toppings list and the deli can provide a range of meats. If possible, charcuterie creates an excellent opportunity for gourmet pizzas and higher price point that can be sold by the slice as well.


Gluten-free continues to grow at a staggering pace. Even though many consumers aren’t buying gluten-free because they have celiac disease, there’s a belief that gluten-free is healthier. . First the smaller independents noticed and then the larger chains made it mainstream. Offering a gluten-free pizza in the deli or the foodservice department is a great way to attract the health-conscious shopper.