Pizza has always been a food blessed by variety. Thin crust, thick crust. New York style, Chicago style and everything in between. And of course a nearly endless array of toppings.

Today’s food environment adds even more complexity to the pizza mix. In pizza crusts alone, consumers can choose from conventional, gluten-free and vegan crusts. Cauliflower, sweet potato, broccoli, beet root? Yep, they’re all used to make pizza crusts.

Add to that consumer demand for authenticity, clean labels, local ingredients, texture and exotic cuisines, and the possibilities for pies expand even further.

For grocery retailers looking to make their prepared foods sections stand out, there’s never been a better time then now to do it with pizza. All that variety in the category translates to countless opportunities to find your niche, and pizza ingredient suppliers are there to meet the need.

An organic first

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market, already known by many for the quality of its hot to-go pizza, added another chapter to its pizza story in January.

The retailer partnered with Pasadena, California-based The Pizza Plant to deliver the first USDA-certified organic take and bake plant based pizzas. Stores in California, Arizona and Nevada began selling the pies on Jan. 15.

The Pizza Plant is known for its enormous 13-Topping, CBD-infused, plant-based Nacho Pizza and its decked out, bright green tour bus-sized pizza kitchen serving unique pies prepared on a scratch-made artisan crust loaded with a symphony of creative-yet-complimentary sauces, toppings, and garnishes.

Whole Foods’ prepared foods departments and pizza stations are offering four Pizza Plant pies:

  • The Sink Not Included. House-made ancho chilled spiced tofu peperone slices & Italian spiced wheat crumble, bell peppers, onions, Kalamata olives, made from scratch mozzarella style cashew nut cheese & marinara atop an artisan crust.
  • Yes, We Will Take You to Funghi Town. Roasted baby bella mushrooms, broccoli, house-made pumpkin seed pesto, shaved red onion & made from scratch mozzarella style cashew nut cheese atop an artisan crust.
  • Sinful Yet Guilt-Free. House-made Italian spiced wheat crumble, cured shiitake bits, shaved fennel, made from scratch mozzarella style cashew nut cheese & marinara atop an artisan crust. 
  • Not Your Grandma’s. Made from scratch mozzarella style cashew nut cheese & marinara atop an artisan crust.

The 10 in pies are packaged in an eco-friendly, certified compostable oven-safe to 425° F/Microwavable TreeSaver™ Pizza Pans made in the U.S.

Adding CBD to the mix

Melrose Park, Illinois-based Caputo Cheese is bringing CBD to the pizza ingredients market with its new Elevated Cow fresh mozzarella.

The CBD-infused variety comes from  100% organic hemp sourced in the U.S. and lab-tested and verified.

“A rigorous amount of research and testing went into developing Elevated Cow and we are excited to provide our customers with a new cheese experience,” says Natale Caputo, Caputo Cheese’s president.

After having a positive personal experience with CBD, Caputo had the idea to craft something unique: his company’s award-winning fresh mozzarella elevated with CBD.

After rigorous lab tests, Caputo put his stamp of approval on the cheese and began working to make CBD fresh mozzarella available to cheese lovers looking for elevated offerings.

“I believe in the positive effects of CBD,” he says. “Infusing CBD into my passion for fresh mozzarella just seemed natural.”

Five pizza trends to watch

By John Unrein


Laurie Scanlin, R&D culinary manager with the R&D culinary team at Denver-based Ardent Mills, says that consumer preferences for pizza are changing, “and new flour choices, as well as heirloom and ancient grains, are bringing new textures to crust and meeting the growing demand for plant-forward pizza.”

1. The Real Deal

Authenticity is increasingly important to pizza eaters; 49% desire authentic pizza offerings, and it doesn’t get more authentic than traditional Neapolitan-style pizza. Authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas use imported “00” flour from Italy, which is quite costly. Ardent Mills’ Primo Mulino Neapolitan-Style Pizza Flour uses wheat grown and milled in North America, providing the same crispy yet soft and subtle dough as traditional “00” flour without the imported cost. 

Menu Idea: Authentic Margarita Pizza. A classic Neapolitan-style crust made with Ardent Mills Primo Mulino Neapolitan-Style Pizza Flour, topped with San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil.

2. Simple Stand-Out Ingredients

Transparency in nutrition is a growing trend that resonates with pizza consumers. Simple recipes featuring healthier ingredients are attractive, and the more rustic, the better. The quality of pizza can also be elevated with artisan ingredients.

Menu Idea: Ardent Mills presented a Farm Stand Pizza built with Ultragrain Whole Wheat Flour and Red Quinoa, providing a hearty yet healthy crust with fresh roasted vegetables, goat cheese, pesto and extra virgin olive oil.

3. Celebration Pies

Seasonality and food holidays offer more ways to create festive eating occasions like “National Donut Day” or “Fall Harvest Fest.” Themed pizzas can capture some of this celebratory spirit and serve well as limited-time offers.

Menu Idea: Mardi Gras Pizza. New Orleans favorites are a big hit in a new format with Cajun chicken, andouille sausage, Creole sauce, mozzarella, onions, peppers and parsley toppings with Ardent Mills Kyrol premium high-gluten crust.

4. Toppings with Texture

Research shows 80% of consumers wish their local pizzerias would offer more premium, innovative toppings. Consider adding both visual and crave-worthy flavor appeal with unique toppings that create texture. Ardent Mills IQF grains as a gremolata topping allow operators to dial up the “wow factor” by adding meaty texture to a plant-based pizza. Operationally, the IQF format reduces back-of-the house labor and allows for more consistent cook times.

Menu Idea: Mediterranean Pizza. Ardent Mills White Sonora whole grain flour crust topped with an IQF Barley, Quinoa and Spelt gremolata, grilled chicken, roasted peppers, a four-cheese blend, fresh arugula, cracked black pepper and shaved parmesan. 

5. Mini Mania

As the snacking category continues to expand, consumers are looking for bite-sized options to satisfy their snack cravings. Operators can leverage in-house ingredients to deliver on this demand by using existing pizza dough to create pizza bites, a fun appetizer or a bar menu addition.

Menu idea: Savory Garlic Parmesan or indulgent Cinnamon Sugar pizza bites both made with Ardent Mills Classic Pizza Mix are sure to be crowd-pleasers.