Overcoming ‘pizza fatigue’

Overcoming ‘pizza fatigue’

CHICAGO — Prices rising at a less-alarming rate and the spread of global cuisine could shake consumers out of any “pizza fatigue.”

The stay-at-home days of COVID-19 in 2020 had many consumers ordering pizza, but over the past 18 months many have experienced pizza fatigue, according to a report issued by Technomic, Inc. in December 2023.

“Pizza is kind of the godfather of delivery foods,” said Wade Hanson, senior principal at Chicago-based Technomic, Inc. “For a long time, there was this widespread ordering of pizza that was just bound to peak at some point. Even though there is a little pizza fatigue that we’re experiencing right now, pizza is not going anywhere.”

Consumer expenditures on pizza in foodservice still rose 2.7% in 2023, he said. As inflation eases, consumers could begin eating out and ordering out more often, perhaps splurging on premium pizzas.

“Obviously, affordability helps all of foodservice, not just pizza,” he said. “So the macro economy bodes well for pizza to grow.”

Regional and national chains are running specials on pizza, he said, but mom-and-pop pizzerias continue to raise prices because of input costs. Large, customized pizzas may cost over $30.

Innovation could attract millennials and Gen Z.

“Particularly younger consumers, they want to try different things,” Hanson said. “You could argue that pizza is becoming a bit of a flavor-carrier. It’s kind of like tacos. You can get any combination of ingredients and flavors on tacos today. The tortilla really can accommodate just about anything. You’re not necessarily looking at a Mexican or a Latin American or a South American taco.”

Offering regional pizza like California-style, Detroit-style and Quad City-style could attract consumers up to age 45, Hanson said, adding Indian cuisine stands ready to impact the pizza industry, perhaps leading to tikka masala pizza creations.

“You essentially take a dish with Indian sauces and perhaps chicken ingredients and perhaps vegetables that are used widely in that cuisine, and you’re just assembling those on the top of the dough,” Hanson said.

Millennials also tend to have young families and want meals that are fast and easy, with pizza fitting that option, he said.