COVID-19 eating trends, which have given a boost to fast food delivery and sparked ferocious demand for comfort food, have also been a boon for pizza chains like Domino’s, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, among others. In recent months, these pizza makers — which make up 8% of all pizza consumption, according to data from Tastewise — have leaned in on menu innovation and delivery in the fight for customer loyalty.
Just last month, Pizza Hut (YUM) unveiled four separate “Detroit-style” pizza recipes chock full of meat that start at $10.99. Detroit Double Pepperoni, Double Cheesy, Meaty Deluxe and Supremo, starting at $10.99. The pizza chain, which saw an 8% boost in sales last quarter, also debuted a limited edition Nothing But Stuffed Crust earlier that month, in honor of the 25th anniversary of the launch of its Original Stuffed Crust Pizza.
Yum! CEO David Gibbs, noted in the company’s quarterly earnings call that Pizza Hut did a lot of work “reinvigorating the innovation pipeline, and bringing the brand forward to consumers in a way that’s really resonating.” He added that the Detroit recipes are emblematic of “an important role for innovation” going forward.
Separately, Papa John’s (PZZA) recently went went “Epic” with its new stuffed crust pizza. The $12 item features dough stuffed with extra cheese, a special sauce and select toppings. Its part of a trend that Wall Street analysts expect to continue, as fast food shifts from COVID-era crisis mode to recovery.
BTIG analyst Peter Saleh wrote in a recent note that after a scaled-back year, 2021 will be feature lots of “new product news as the pandemic eases and same-store sales moderate.”
Domino’s (DPZ), meanwhile, also hopes to capture the attention of consumers with speciality pies. Back in September, the chain introduced two new flavors: Cheeseburger and chicken taco. The company is expected to report its fourth quarter earnings results on February 25th.
in the third-quarter earnings call, Ritch Allison, Domino’s Chief Executive Officer noted, “customer feedback thus far has been very positive on these new products.”
In fact, the looming pizza wars have drawn in consumer goods companies. Nestle (NSRGY) has branded itself a “leader in the frozen pizza” with brands like Digiorno, California Pizza Kitchen, Tombstone and Jack’s. Hormel Foods (HRL) is also entering the fray, with a wide array of specialized pizza toppings. The company has also teamed up with Slice Out Hunger to deliver pizzas to shelters and soup kitchens recently.
How much pizza do Americans consume in a day?
According to Slice Life, Americans eat 350 slices of pizza per second. The online food ordering platform also noted that U.S. consumers eat a staggering 3 billion pizzas per year — a total of $38 billion spent by Americans annually on pizza.
Homemade pizza is also gaining traction as more Americans are remaining at home due to COVID-19, according to Tastewise. The data analytics company told Yahoo Finance 14% of all pizza-eating occasions are homemade, and consumer interest in homemade pizza jumped 58% year-over-year as lockdown restrictions shuttered local pizza joints.
And local pizzerias have also looked to adopt new consumer trends during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, pizzerias’ lunch deals increased by 39% as consumers worked from home and Friday nights at 5pm was the most popular time to order in 2020, according to Slice Life.
Brooke DiPalma is a producer and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma.
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