Slideshow: Pizza innovation plentiful during pandemic

Slideshow: Pizza innovation plentiful during pandemic

KANSAS CITY — Homebound consumers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have driven the growth of restaurant delivery sales in 2020.

Revenue in the restaurant-to-consumer delivery segment is projected to reach $15.631 million in 2020, according to Statista, and that revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate of 4.3% over the next four years, resulting in a projected market volume of $18.472 million by 2024.

Seeking to snag a bigger slice of this revenue, restaurants are ramping up new menu item development to appeal to more consumers. Pizza innovation in particular has been plentiful in 2020.

For instance, several pizza chains have rolled out better-for-you offerings to help quarantined consumers keep their health goals.

In May, 1000 Degrees Pizza partnered with Caulipower to develop a new pizza featuring Caulipower’s cauliflower crust. The Green Team Pizza is topped with pesto, mozzarella, feta, chopped garlic, broccoli, red onions and basil.

“Caulipower cauliflower crust has been a huge hit in our restaurants from the moment we rolled it out, and it continues to account for a large portion of our sales from our guests hunkered down at home,” said Matthew Merrill, director of franchise operations for 1000 Degrees Pizza. “We wanted to build on that success by offering up some more innovative options featuring Caulipower. While other brands are streamlining menus, our guests are staying active and engaging in healthier lifestyles at home, so we think this is the perfect time to launch our new Green Team Pizza.”

Other healthier options from pizza chains this year include a plant-based pepperoni-style topping at Papa Murphy’s, a keto certified and gluten-free Protein Style Chicken Base from Pieology Pizzeria, a cauliflower pizza crust from Newk’s Eatery and three new cauliflower crust pizzas featuring plant-based sausage from Donatos Pizza.

Pizza restaurants also sought to serve consumers looking for comfort in uncertain times with extra indulgent pies. For example, Domino’s Pizza recently added Chicken Taco Pizza and Cheeseburger Pizza to its menu. Papa John’s launched the Shaq-a-Roni Pizza, an extra-large pizza topped with extra cheese and extra pepperoni that is cut into the pizza chain’s largest slice size to-date. Papa John’s also launched the Extra Cheesy Alfredo Garlic Parmesan Crust Pizza, topped with alfredo sauce, a blend of provolone, fontina and asiago cheese, and an extra portion of mozzarella cheese all served on a garlic Parmesan crust. Little Caesars introduced the Pepperoni Cheeser! Cheeser! Pizza, featuring a large pizza topped with pepperoni, high-moisture mozzarella and basil and edged with a toasted asiago-Parmesan crust. Pizza Hut debuted the Mozzarella Poppers Pizza, featuring crust topped with 16 crispy mozzarella-stuffed squares.

“Mozzarella Poppers Pizza will be the first of many new craveable pizzas you can only get at Pizza Hut,” said David Graves, chief brand officer for Pizza Hut. “From the original Stuffed Crust to our classic Ultimate Cheesy Crust, Pizza Hut has always led the category in innovation. Mozzarella Poppers Pizza is no exception. By putting one of America’s favorite appetizers, the mozzarella stick, on the pizza, the team has created another craveable crust you can only get at Pizza Hut.”

View a slideshow of new pizza offerings in 2020.