Alternative bases and upmarket toppings help pizza hold ground
New product activity levels in the pizza market have remained relatively consistent over the past few years, despite ongoing consolidation in the industry, particularly in the US and in the frozen pizza sector, according to Innova Market Insights research.
As might be expected, the most developed convenience foods markets of North America and Europe dominated launch activity, accounting for over 80 per cent of the total pizza launches recorded globally by Innova Market Insights in the 12 months to the end of June 2013. Western Europe alone accounted for over 40 per cent of the total, reflecting the large number of countries and companies involved, while the highly developed US market took over a quarter.
According to Lu Ann Williams, director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights, recent new product activity is focusing on areas such as authentic and traditional-style pizzas, gourmet ingredients and toppings and healthier alternatives.
She reports that a new style product receiving particular attention in the US in the first half of 2013 was flatbread pizza.
"New products are particularly using upscale flavours. These include Palermo’s Creamy Spinach & Goat Cheese and Italian Sausage with Mushroom & Fire-Roasted Onions flatbreads, Phillips Chesapeake Crab and Bourbon BBQ Shrimp flatbreads and Trader Joe's Mushroom & Black Truffle flatbread," Williams says.
The US market has also seen considerable activity in gluten-free options, with ten per cent of pizza launches in the year to the end of June 2013 featuring "gluten-free" claims, compared with a much more modest four per cent globally.
The other key US trend towards more complex, upmarket and often increasingly spicy toppings is also strongly in evidence in Europe, where branded and own-label new product activity is continuing apace. In the UK, the retailers play a significant role in the market, particularly in chilled pizza and recent launches have included Asda's Kickin' Piri Piri Chicken, Smokin' Sensation, Pep-Me-Up and Veggie Chilli Cheezilla thin and crispy stonebaked pizzas, as well as Tesco’s Italian Stonebaked Pepperoni & Tomato Chilli Crumb and Italian Black Pepper Chicken and Parmesan variants.
Interest in thin-based products was also in evidence in Europe. Activity in France includes chilled foods specialist Sodebo's extension of its range to include five Pizza Style products with thin oval bases and large toppings. On the other hand, there was also activity in deep pan pizza, with UK frozen pizza market leader Dr Oetker launching into the category for the first time with its Panebello range, already available in some other countries.
Notable activity in organic and sustainable products has also been reported in Europe, with Lea Nature extending its Jardin Bio organic foods range in France into chilled foods for the first time. In Germany, Fish & More extended its Followfish sustainable fish brand with what it claimed was the country's first MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified tuna fish pizza.
"The retail pizza market has benefited more than most from the financial downturn," Williams concludes, "offering an attractive option in times of increased financial pressure, with consumers able to buy in advance for social nights in, as a cheaper alternative to home-delivery, takeaways and eat-in restaurants."