With pizza on 37% of menus nationwide, according to Technomic’s 2018 Pizza Consumer Trend Report, there’s strong competition for diners’ dough. And Americans are eating a lot of pizza—43% of consumers order it at least once a week. But compared to two years ago, consumers are fussier about what goes into and onto their pies. Technomic calls this trend the “rise of the pizza connoisseurs.” Here’s how it’s playing out.
1. They’re after authenticity
Authenticity is increasingly important to pizza eaters, the Technomic report reveals, with 49% wanting more authentic pizza offerings. To meet this demand, some concepts are calling out ingredients imported from Italy, such as olive oil, canned tomatoes and cheese, while others are milling flour on-site and promoting that as a selling point.
3. The secret’s in the sauce
Forty-four percent of consumers choose operators who use high-quality toppings, with sauce quality being the most important aspect to them. Marinara or tomato sauce is the most popular for 61% of consumers, but garlic-based sauces are gaining ground in step with the growing interest in bolder flavors, notes the Technomic report.
4. Preference for Neapolitan grows
While New York-style pizza still ranks highest with 65% of consumers—Chicago-style comes in second at 54%—lesser-known regional styles are getting some recognition. Detroit-style is on the rise, with 25% of consumers singling it out, and Neapolitan scored well with 22%. Operators can differentiate and play up authenticity by menuing these lesser-known regional American and regional Italian pizzas.
5. Mom and pops stay on top
Fast-casual chains offering customizable pizzas with fresh, seasonal ingredients may be getting the buzz, but traffic at indies remains high, per Technomic. More than a third of consumers (34%) credit independents with offering higher-quality pies.