There’s always a silver lining, and even though COVID-19 has restricted the majority of Americans to eating pizza at home instead of having their pie in restaurants, one trend will stay the same — we love eating pizza no matter where the location or situation.
In early April, BakingBusiness.com reported that 43% of Americans ate pizza at least once a week. At that time there were more than 95,000 pizza outlets across the country, according to market research company Technomic. During the stay-at-home orders, consumers are clamoring for comfort foods to help through what may be lonely times, and to-go orders or ready-to-eat pizzas from convenience stores are becoming Americans’ new way of eating comfort food.
Pizza lovers, according to research firm Euromonitor International, are looking for trends in the ready-to-go pizza category such as more natural preservatives; reduced-carb alternatives like cauliflower crusts; and bold, ethnic flavors derived from global inspiration. Additionally, younger consumers or those who live alone are looking for single slice pizzas or those small enough to serve a family of one.
Of course national pizza chains are leading in sales categories, BakingBusiness.com notes, but c-stores, according to CHD Expert, are growing at a rapid pace. Casey’s General Stores was named one of the fastest-growing pizza restaurants in the country (its Taco Pizza is a popular specialty), with Wawa, Sheetz and Kwik Trip closely following. The National Association of Convenience Stores found that c-store chains have increased sales inside the stores by 30% in the past decade, and the number of c-stores in the U.S. has grown by 28%, with the leader there being 7-Eleven.
An astounding 93% of American live within 10 minutes of a c-store, making convenience and stay-at-home orders easier to comply with due to the proximity. Prepared food sales, which include pizza, inside c-stores is on the rise, and Euromonitor says that “ because pizza is a substantial component of prepared food offerings at convenience stores, it is reasonable to assume that pizza sales through these outlets have grown in tandem with category sales as a whole.”
Plant-based supply and demand are booming in the prepared and pizza category, and c-stores’ prepared pizza makers are innovating with better-for-you crusts and toppings like zucchini, sweet potato and broccoli-cheddar. Authenticity is key: in fact, a Technomic study found that 49% of shoppers wanted more authenticity in pizza offerings. With the market ripe for carry-out innovation, c-stores that can be as forthcoming with exposure, ingredient supply chain and offer the latest in technology in ordering — including contactless and touchless technology — and fast, convenient carry out options will stand out above the competition.
Need to get those pizza orders filled? LloydPans’ pizza pan and accessory lineup is great for pizza around the dinner table, individual slice servings and large carry out service restaurants.