Hot from the oven

The retail pizza category is sizzling, thanks to new products and varieties.

By Seth Mendelson

The pizza category is hot in supermarkets. And, many retailers and other industry observers think that it is just going to get hotter as suppliers introduce more varieties to the marketplace.

According to statistics from Chicago-based SymphonyIRI Group, frozen pizza dollar sales rose by nearly 6% in mass market outlets, while refrigerated pizza dollar sales jumped by a whopping 16.3% for the tracked year ending April 18. Of course, private label sales led the charge, growing by about 25% in the frozen market and 33% in the refrigerated market.

But branded products also performed well, a fact that many say is due to better quality, stronger advertising support and more variety on the pizzas themselves. All of the leading frozen brands, including DiGiorno, Tombstone, Red Baron and California Pizza Kitchen, posted strong growth during the year.

“The state of the pizza category—both private label and branded—is excellent,” says Ricardo Alvarez, president and CEO of Holland, Ohio-based Frozen Specialties, Inc. “According to the recent Pizza Consumer Trend Report by Technomics, Inc., 81% of consumers today are buying more frozen pizza, an increase of 7 percentage points compared with 2008.

“In addition, according to the same report, 30% think frozen pizza is of equal or better quality than restaurant pizza, compared to 15% two years ago. Quality, value and convenience continue to drive the category and, at Frozen Specialties, all of our private label offerings are designed to offer exactly those features.”

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