The pizza market in the United Kingdom has gone from strength to strength over the last year and is currently worth £570 million, according to Kantar sales figures tracked through November 29, 2020. That’s a gain of 12.5% in value year-on-year and up 9.1% in volume.
“Frozen has experienced a significant growth spurt, especially through the pandemic (SARS-CoV-2 or novel coronavirus), as products can be kept for longer and can be used as a backup in the freezer,” said Richard Harrow, chief executive of the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF). “The pizza sector has seen an impressive double digit growth. It has been particularly handy for parents with children off school as it offers a quick and easy meal.”
Pizza has been a go-to option for many foodservice outlets and a popular choice for consumers looking for a quick meal. A lot of foodservice operators have turned to pizza as a simple and popular takeaway option, while schools have used it to help them cope with dining room restraints and lower staff levels.
“Pizza tops the list of delivered food items, according to the NPD Group, so it’s a key product to have on any menu, both in the cost and profit sector,” said Gordon Lauder, managing director of frozen food distributor Central Foods.
Flavour of the Month
Classic favourites remain popular amongst consumers, with the Iceland chain reporting top sales of cheese and pepperoni variants. The retailer also reports that thin bases are in high demand, and it has seen strong growth in sales of its stuffed crust and stone-baked products.
Although these traditional offerings remain popular, producers are updating them with a twist. Many cheese pizzas now feature mozzarella balls, shaved parmesan or high quality pepperoni. Chicken is also a big protein on pizzas in the UK, more so than in the rest of Europe, with toppings such as sweet chili chicken or BBQ chicken popular options.
“Although there’s a lot of development, customers know what base they like and the main innovation comes from new flavour toppings,” said a spokesperson at Iceland. “We recently launched a range of Wood Fired Stonebaked Pizzas produced in Italy using 24-hour rested dough. At £1.50, these pizzas are an incredible value and beat M&S on a blind taste test.”
New product development seems to focus on bases, with extra thin and thin being the most popular options, whereas deep pan pizzas are perceived as a less healthy option. Alternative bases such as wholemeal, chickpea and sourdough, as well as raw dough pizza, which are frozen and then cooked for the first time in ovens, are growing in number.
Recognizing the importance of authentic, premium quality bread offerings for consumers, and the huge popularity of pizza, especially as demand for delivery and take-out services grow, Pan’Artisan has developed two new frozen premium dough balls; Hi-Crust and Hi-Crust made with Sourdough.
“This innovative product changes the game when it comes to manufactured dough, offering excellent versatility and ease of use,” explained David Jones, sales and marketing director at Pan’Artisan. “Our development team worked tirelessly over many months to find the solution the market has been calling for, whilst ensuring the process is not too complex for the operator. The Hi Crust Dough Ball is not only available in standard but also as a made with sourdough variant, to address all taste preferences.”
Pan’Artisan’s dough balls are available frozen and in cases of 70 x 240g, benefiting operators with a longer shelf life, less wastage and convenience in portion sizes. They are also suitable for different oven types; amazing results can be had from a traditional wood-burning oven, impinger or stone deck oven.
Although prepared frozen pizzas are great options for foodservice operators, for outlets that want to add their own stamp to the menu, frozen bases and dough products provide a great middle ground for creativity.
“For the ultimate in convenience, foodservice operators can buy in pre-made frozen bases, which will help them to serve authentic pizzas to their customers without the worry of wastage or spoilage,” said Lauder of Central Foods.
There is growing demand for plant-based options from vegan and vegetarian consumers as well as flexitarians. Meat-free options are under the spotlight this month as Veganuary is underway, highlighting the benefits of a plant-based diet.
“This raises awareness of the importance of having pizzas available to suit those customers who prefer plant-based products,” said Lauder. “Vegans and vegetarians are set to make up 25% of the population by 2025, and flexitarians just under 50%, according to the Vegan Society, so it makes commercial sense to offer plant-based options of popular items like pizzas.
“In these challenging times, when outlets may be operating with reduced staff and reduced opening hours, life can be made easier and profits maximized by using prepared frozen products, which help to reduce waste, manage unknown demand and are a cost-effective way of serving all-time favourites such as pizzas.”
Central Foods has recently teamed up with the award-winning White Rabbit Pizza Company to offer nudies – vegan and gluten-free stone-baked, artisan pizza bases that can be topped with all sorts of flavours and ingredients. It has also recently launched a number of Jack & Bry vegan and gluten-free toppings, including plant-based pepperoni slices made from nutritious jackfruit, which offer a delicious meaty texture and taste while also being low in calories and high in fibre.
“The demand for vegan pizza has seen an increasing number of major brands introduce plant-based options,” said BFFF Chief Executive Harrow. “Many market leaders, such as Dr. Oetker and Chicago Town, are skipping vegetarian pizzas and going straight to vegan.”
It’s been a good year for frozen pizza, dough and base sales, with innovations meeting consumer demand for change. As the industry continues to maneuver through the coronavirus pandemic, moving forward the next challenge on the horizon will be to reach salt and calorie reduction targets set by the government. – Reported by Sarah Welsh