Pizza is a perennial favorite and it doesn’t appear to be in danger of losing its popularity any time soon. Los Angeles-based research firm IBISWorld predicts that pizza revenues will grow at a rate of 1.2% through 2021. North American pizza sales are predicted to increase 10.2% — up to $50.7 billion — in the next five years.

But when it comes to pizza in the deli prepared department of the supermarket, things may not look quite as rosy. 

According to Nielsen, pizza was the lone super category to see its dollar percentage contribution drop in the 52 weeks ending July 21, 2018. Pizza contribution fell 4.4%, and that comes a year after the category saw a 7.6% drop in contribution. 

That doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Retailers just need to key in on what shoppers – particularly younger shoppers – are looking for when it comes to pizza.

“The most popular trends in pizza right now are fresh ingredients, menu transparency and international flavors,” says Jordan Robinson-Delaney, marketing leader for Milwaukee-based Ovention Ovens, which produces pizza ovens for supermarket retail.

A healthier crust

A pizza’s crust is the foundation for a great pie. Its importance is elevated even more when trying to construct a more healthful pizza.

Retailers can help consumers take control of the pizza choices by offering alternatives to the typical thick, thin or cheese-stuffed crusts. Alive & Kickin’ recommends substituting one of two specialty crusts to immediately reduce calories and sodium without sacrificing flavor.

  • Cracker thin — crunchy, light and satisfying
  • Whole grain — Introduces grains that are filling, but not necessarily fattening.

Alive & Kickin’ — headquartered in Green Bay, Wisconsin — offers several crust options that retailers can use in their pizza operations. The company’s dough balls bring a high level of convenience, from proofing to baking. Since pre-made dough balls are pre-portioned prior to freezing, the company says making sure a supply of them are proofing or ready to proof is really just a matter of incorporating the step into a back-of-house routine.

Alive & Kickin’s par-baked crusts ramp up the convenience even more. From a crisp, flaky ultra-thin to a rich, yeasty Sicilian-style dough, par-baked crusts can offer a full range of styles and textures. The crusts also offer extra long shelf life and easy handling.

Alive & Kickin’ also offers custom crusts, wood-fired crusts and rising crusts.

Tying in nutrition trends

Alive & Kickin’ points out that several of the National Restaurant Association’s forecasted culinary trends can help retailers incorporate healthy menu choices.

  • Hyper-local meat, seafood and vegetable sourcing: Keep your pizzas tempting and food costs manageable by working with area suppliers when possible.
  • Vegetable-centric cuisine: Top pizzas with classic vegetable combinations or seasonal picks to give shoppers a healthful, meatless option.
  • Go smaller: Bite-sized options and other small portions — also referred to as amuse-bouche — are growing in popularity and they’re a trendy way to help keep calories in check.