Just how popular is pizza in the U.K.? Nearly two-thirds of U.K. consumers eat pizza at least once a month, new Technomic research finds—and one-quarter dine on pizza weekly.
Those figures come courtesy of Technomic’s Status & Outlook of the U.K. Pizza Category and Its Customers study, released this month in co-operation with the Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food Association. The study offers a multitude of menu insights for operators and suppliers, based on Technomic menu analysis and a survey of 1,000 U.K. consumers ages 18 and older.
Among the study’s findings: Younger consumers drive pizza consumption and away-from-home pizza purchases. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of consumers ages 18 to 34, versus 52% of those ages 35 and older, order pizza for eat-in at a restaurant at least monthly. And retail pizza purchases beat dine-in orders among all consumers; 66% of U.K. consumers across age groups buy chilled or frozen pizza at retail monthly.
Pizza’s strong popularity at retail outlets suggests an opportunity for restaurant operators. Offering branded pizzas at supermarkets and other retail outlets can help restaurants build their name recognition beyond the reach of the areas served by their bricks-and-mortar locations; it can also boost their positioning among loyal customers as a convenient, anytime meal option. Indeed, 43% of U.K. consumers said they would like their favourite restaurant brand to offer chilled pizza at retail, and 35% say the same for frozen pizza.
For dine-in and takeaway occasions, consumers indicated an interest in more variety and flexibility when it comes to their pizza options. More than half (49% of men and 62% of women) said they would like more restaurants to offer pizza by the slice; a third would like to see more portable, handheld pizza snack options. Further, most consumers (55%) said they prefer to build their own pizzas, and two-fifths reported regularly ordering “half-and-half” pizzas that they can share with others.
More-healthful ingredient choices and ingredients that boast quality/health halos generated significant interest, too. Forty-six percent of consumers said they would like restaurants to offer more-healthful pizza ingredients, and around two-fifths said the use of natural or organic (40%) and local (36%) ingredients is important in creating a good pizza.
On the menu, we see U.K. restaurant operators across menu and industry segments debuting a wider variety of creative speciality pies meant to capture consumers’ growing interest in higher-quality, more-gourmet ingredients and flavours. Following are several recently introduced pizzas that reflect this trend:
- The Goat’s Cheese and Onion One, The Florentine (Sheffield): With Rosary goat’s cheese, balsamic red onions, charcoal-roasted vegetables, sun-dried tomato pesto, mozzarella and The Florentine tomato sauce
- Quattro Salami Pizza, Piccolino Ristorante e Bar: With finocchiona, Milano, ’nduja (a spreadable Italian pork sausage), soppresata, tomato and mozzarella
- Cipollini, PizzaExpress: With spinach, sweet baby onions, red onions and mozzarella, baked with garlic oil and fresh rosemary on a creamy sweet-potato base, finished with chopped parsley, Gran Moravia cheese and chili oil
- Rustico Manzo E Gorgonzola, Zizzi: Signature rustica pizza base baked with a creamy gorgonzola sauce and topped with slices of beef, slow-roasted tomatoes, rocket, mozzarella and Grana Padano
- Chicken Delight Pizza, Pizza Hut: With chicken breast, sliced mushrooms, mozzarella and red onions
- Prawn and Lobster Executive Pizza, Prezzo: King prawns and lobster with bechamel sauce, grilled courgettes, cherry tomatoes, roasted peppers, red onion, rocket and mozzarella
Out-of-the-ordinary, full-flavoured sauces such as bechamel and arrabbiata (a spicy tomato sauce) and a greater assortment of vegetable, protein and cheese topping choices can attract consumers eager to savour new tastes and sample signature-recipe pizzas they won’t find down the street. If there’s one standout finding from the Status & Outlook of the U.K. Pizza Category and Its Customers study, it’s that U.K. operators have plenty of room to play around with their pizza offerings.