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Drive pizza traffic with “clean” toppings

tomato mozzarella pizza

Consumers are seeking out authentic, real ingredients in all areas of dining—and pizza is no exception.

Diners demand clean ingredients and transparency, and menu mentions of items like “fresh” mozzarella, Old World pepperoni and nitrite-free bacon are on the rise. Today’s customers at all levels, from quick-serve to fast casual to fine dining, care about the farm that grew their basil and the dairy farmer who produced their mozzarella.

Tagging ingredient origins, such as “Wisconsin parmesan” or local cheddar, builds trust and grows consumer confidence.

Plus, 58% of consumers say they’d like pizza restaurants to offer more all-natural ingredients and 59% said they’d like to see more premium toppings and ingredients, according to Technomic’s 2016 Pizza Consumer Trend Report.

There are even more opportunities for operators to get creative with pizza cheeses as build-your-own pizza chains contain to expand, playing into the growing customization trend.

And pizza’s not just for dinner (or even lunch) anymore. Increasingly, operators are menuing breakfast pizzas, with eggs, meats and cheese, and appetizer pizzas and flatbreads for before-meal sharing and snacking.  Operators also are getting creative with ethnic pizza mashups, from Asian pies such as Mellow Mushroom’s Thai Dye pizza to Toppers Pizza’s Jamaican Jerk Chicken offering.

Even with all of the creative toppings, traditional cheeses reign supreme. Parmesan is one of the fastest-growing pizza cheeses at LSRs and is featured on 56% of pies at FSRs, according to Technomic data. Favorites including mozzarella, cheddar and Asiago also remain popular.

Nutty, savory Parmesan makes a great contrast to tangy, flavor-forward toppings like those on The Pineapple Jack pizza from &pizza, which features pineapple, barbecue sauce, tomato sauce, mozzarella, salami, pickled red onion and Parmesan.

Plus, Parmesan pairs well on “lighter” vegetable-heavy pizzas, which are favored by female diners. It’s used in Pagliacci Pizza’s LTO that includes an olive oil base topped with roasted zucchini, summer squash, mozzarella, Parmesan and herbs.

For a truly authentic dining experience, a growing number of Wisconsin farms are catering to agri-tourism visitors, opening “pizza farms” that focus on pies topped with local produce, cheeses and meats, cooked in wood-fired ovens while diners watch. 

This post is sponsored by Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

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