A Slice of The Pizza Market

April 24th, 2021

It is said that dogs are humans’ best friend. Yes, they are cute and friendly, but they require attention and care. Pizza, on the other hand, is the gift that keeps on giving while asking for nothing in return. It may sound cheesy, but pizza has been our most loyal companion for decades. In the good times and the bad, in joy and sorrow, it provides comfort to millions of consumers around the world. During the recent pandemic outbreak, pizza continued to support its lovers on both ends, from producers to consumers. Hence, the pizza industry remains strong despite the 2020 turbulence that affected every business. In the food and beverage sector, everybody wants a slice of pizza shares.

The history of pizza goes as far as the ancient Egyptians, the Romans and the Greeks. Nowadays, it represents 1.59 percent of the average American diet. Tastewise reports that next in line are tacos (1.23%) and burgers (1.2%). The modern birthplace of pizza is the Italian city and previous Greek settlement, Naples. This inexpensive dish made out of flatbreads with various toppings, similar to the beloved garnishes we enjoy today, was consumed by Neapolitans at any time of the day. When incorporated into American menus, it was mostly limited to dinner time. Today, CHD Expert found that 36 percent of consumers consider pizza the perfect breakfast — sometimes cracking an egg on top — and sweet alternatives opened the market to dessert pizzas. Any time is pizza time. Pizza has been embraced by American consumers, 94 percent of which eat pizza regularly (at least once a week), so much that it is now deeply rooted in the American culture. On average, each person in the United States eats 25 pounds of pizza each year, or about 46 slices. This amounts to around 350 slices per second or 100 acres of pizza each day, which is the size of a small dairy farm in New York.

Neapolitans used to purchase pizzas from street vendors or informal restaurants. Today, there are about 73,000 pizzerias in the United States, and 21,000 Italian Pizza and Pasta restaurants. Pizzerias represent 10 percent of all Full Service and Quick Service restaurants. Full Service establishments offer meals and snacks for immediate consumption primarily on-premise. Quick or Limited Service restaurants are establishments whose patrons generally order items and pay before eating. Pizza is one of the most popular choices, present in 24.9% of menus across both kinds of restaurants, with Quick Service taking more than half of the shares.

Understandably, the tendency towards pizza consumption at home has increased over 50 percent versus restaurant dine ins. While full service restaurants are struggling to recover from the pandemic, the pizza industry put their attention on their already established delivery and carry out options. Thanks to this, the social distancing restrictions had (relatively) no dramatic impact on pizza sales. Pizza and delivery have been closely related for years. Legend has it that the first pizza delivery order came from Queen Margherita of Savoy in 1889! Take away orders are more profitable because there is no need for a delivery driver, while delivery generates bigger orders by nature. Together, delivery and carryout orders helped protect pizza companies from coronavirus induced damages. Establishments solely focused on delivery and takeaway options, who represent 1 percent of American pizza sales, show a 10 percent increase in 2020. Such a growth is impressive in a pandemic striven market, with the added factor that pizza was no longer the primary delivery option as many other food types became available. Consumers wanted more diversity after being quarantined for so long. Still, as reflected by Forbes, pizza sellers had the advantage that they offer a group meal, making it easy to cater to entire households of consumers forced together in isolation. Besides, their operating model is simple, which is always beneficial for any company in times of financial crisis.

A Datassential survey shows that during the pandemic, 63% of consumers sought comfort in pizza. Sense360 reports that Pizza’s share of wallet was at its highest during March and April 2020, the severest part of the pandemic. It has gone down due to the reopening of Casual Dining restaurants once restrictions were lifted, which is not surprising. Still, the share is higher than before the pandemic. The increase is not in the number of consumers — penetration has remained consistent over the last years — but in check size and transaction volumes. The years B.C. (Before Coronavirus) presented quite an even split in sales between independent operators and medium to large chains, with slight but steady dominance from the latter. PMQ’s Pizza Power Report shows that although the major pizza chains continue to lead American’s independent and small-chain pizzerias in total sales, many independent operators managed to hold their sales steady or even increase them during the pandemic. Both segments rebounded as the country reopened for business and, post pandemic, the total sales for independent pizzerias actually went up by 0.58 percent.

Data shows that the bond between pizza fans and the legendary cheesy pie is stronger than any recession. No pandemic will stop American consumers from enjoying their favorite dish. While large pizza chains have increased significantly over the last years, pizza connoisseurs know that the best pizza is made by independent players. Traditional pizzerias like Amicci’s have been refining their recipes for years, crafting the most delicious pizzas with love and talent. You must be craving a slice after reading this article. Contact your nearest Amicci’s store to make an order!



CHD Expert




PMQ Pizza Magazine