Pizza can offer respite from pandemic sales slump

Sponsored content from Ardent Mills.

Steak and Blue Cheese pizza, made with Ardent Mills Keynote Select Strong Bakers Flour

It’s no secret that the restaurant industry has taken a big hit since the onset of the pandemic. And while brighter days are on the horizon, thanks to broader vaccine rollouts and warming temperatures offering expanded outdoor-dining opportunities, many operators are still seeking ways to recoup lost sales due to the pandemic. Pizza, a heavy hitter on menus any time of year, might be one key offering for doing just that. But not just any pizza — rather, operators should focus on increased consumer demand for authenticity, unique ingredients, better-for-you options and menu items that meet specific dietary needs.

Gluten Free pizza, made with Ardent Mills Gluten Free Pizza Flour

Pizza’s popularity provides setup for success

According to Technomic’s 2020 Pizza Consumer Trend Report, nearly two fifths of consumers—37%— eat pizza at least once a week. But in an increasingly saturated market, it can be tough for restaurants to differentiate themselves from competitors. Technomic found that 33% of consumers say they are more interested in trying pizzas with unique toppings or ingredients now than they were two years ago, and another 30% say they are interested in eating pizzas featuring crusts made with alternatives to traditional white wheat flour. Finally, 28% say they would eat pizza more often if there were healthier options available — such as pizzas made with natural or organic ingredients, keto friendly and gluten-free pizza. By offering menu items that incorporate these demands, operators ensure that there’s something on the menu for everyone — from those who crave an authentic style crust, to consumers who avoid gluten and everything in between.

“As we monitor market and consumer trends, we’re seeing significant growth opportunities in the better-for-you space. Pizza crusts that follow clean-label, whole-grain, plant-based and specialty diets are the fastest-growing menu mentions,” says Elaine O’Doherty, Marketing Manager at Ardent Mills. “However, authenticity remains important to pizza eaters and it doesn’t get more authentic than traditional Neapolitan-style pizza. Primo Mulino® Neapolitan-style pizza flour is an option to provide a great crust at a domestic flour price.”

Better pizza, bigger sales numbers

Updating your pizza menu to include features that consumers are clamouring for can lead to an increase in sales. Technomic surveyed consumers on what would encourage them to order from pizza restaurants more often. Higher-quality pizza and a better overall value were top choices across the board — from quick-service pizza restaurants to full-service. It’s important to note, however, that better value doesn’t necessarily mean a lower price. As consumers priorities change for what they eat and where they order from, food quality combined with a fair price is what they are after. By putting quality ingredients on the pizza menu, operators can increase the value perception and boost sales. Starting with the crust is an important and easy way to do this.

“For pizza crusts, many of our customers want to offer whole-grain, gluten-free and non-GMO options,” says O’Doherty. “Organic flours and specialty grains are a great way to satisfy consumers in this space. And, add-ins such as quinoa, chickpea flour and spelt can also bring more nutrition, texture and flavour for these consumers.”

Neapolitan Style pizza , made with Ardent Mills Primo Mulino Neapolitan Style Flour

Sourcing sought-after ingredients from a quality vendor

When asked why they chose a specific restaurant the last time they ordered pizza, 36% of consumers said it was because the restaurant’s pizza has the best crust. To get the best crust, operators should make sure to seek out specialized vendors with deep technical knowledge and support in the ingredients needed to make it. For instance, Ardent Mills, the premier flour milling and ingredient company, offers an array of traditional and specialty flours that are designed to produce excellent crusts— from classic pizza, strong bakers, Simply Milled® Organic and Primo Mulino® Neapolitan-style pizza Flour.

Upgrading your pizza menu has never been easier — or more critical. For more information about Ardent Mills’ broad portfolio of pizza flours and technical resources check out The Pizza Hub by visiting our website.

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