In an age when operators are looking to pare down their menus wherever possible, growth of a menu part is particularly meaningful. Among all entree types, pizza is currently the only one with increasing menu mentions year over year, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, powered by Ignite. Thus, knowing which pizza toppings and crust types are seeing the greatest growth on menus is key. Read on for a glimpse of the five fastest-growing pizza ingredients in the past year.
Percentages are rounded to the nearest tenth.
5. French bread, +36.4%
With mentions up 36.4% on menus in the past year, French bread is the sole nontraditional crust in the top-five list. And crust isn't small potatoes to most consumers—81% say crust texture is important in creating a good pizza, while 78% say crust flavor is important, according to Technomic’s Pizza Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite. Many operators are using French bread to differentiate from the traditional thin-crust pizzas, and make it more portable. Emerging eatertainment chain Bowlmor Lanes offers three varieties of French Bread Pizzas—cheese, pepperoni and Buffalo chicken—served on a 7-inch baguette. And noncommercial facilities are also jumping on board the trend—The Gardens, a retirement community in Madison, Wis., serves French bread pizza every Monday, while University of Southern California’s Parkside Restaurant menus a Chicken Club French Bread Pizza.
4. Almond, +36.4%
Almond mentions have increased 36.4% on pizzas in the past year. Operators are commonly pairing the nut—which is served as-is, roasted, in the crust or in a sauce—with apple, pesto and vegetables like broccoli and artichoke in specialty pizzas. However, one classic recipe is being rejiggered with the addition of almond: Hawaiian pizzas. Donatos Pizza takes the traditional version with pineapple and ham up a notch with almonds and cinnamon, while Garlic Jim’s Famous Gourmet Pizza brings almonds, cilantro and sweet chili sauce to the mix.
3. Lox, +38.5%
Smoked salmon has seen extensive growth on pizza menus this past year. Many operators are taking familiar bagel and lox flavors and bringing them to the pizza mealpart. Wolfgang Puck Express’s $9.95 Smoked Salmon Pizza, for example, features dill cream, red onions and chives. Although only 9% of consumers find salmon an appealing protein option on pizzas, fans skew toward the 25-to-34-year-old range.
2. Brussels sprouts, +42.9%
Though a seasonal ingredient, Brussels sprouts are finding their way onto pizza menus year-round. Operators are commonly pairing the veg with bacon or pancetta for a bite that's both healthy and indulgent, such as the $10 Bacon and Brussels Sprouts Pizza from Arizona-based chain Sauce Pizza & Wine. Other concepts are taking the combo up a notch: Chicago’s The Florentine in the JW Marriott recently served a $15 Brussels Sprout Pizza with garlic confit, ’nduja, smoked provola and aged balsamic.
1. Angus, +42.9%
Angus mentions are up 42.9%, making it the fastest-growing pizza ingredient on menus in the past year. While beef is a popular pizza topping, significantly more older consumers than younger prefer options like ground beef, per the Pizza Report. Thus, operators may be looking to Angus' high-quality reputation to make beef more appealing to young folks. Many pizza types featuring Angus are inspired by cheeseburgers. AK’s South Boston menus a Cheeseburger Club Pizza with Angus beef, ketchup, mustard, fries, cheddar and mozzarella. Other operators are combining Angus with other meats, such as Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, which combines pepperoni, sweet Italian sausage, smoked bacon, ham and Black Angus ground beef.