Will the infinitely flexible pizza become the ultimate flexitarian food?
It seems there’s still no stopping the endless demand for more and more pizza. Recent figures reveal that, of the Top 20 ‘out-of-home’ items, Pizza is showing the largest rise in popularity, eaten on 4.4% of OOH lunch and dinner visits…up from 3.7% a year ago*.
In basic terms, that means almost half the UK population eats pizza at least once a week!
But, as they say, nothing lasts forever. So what better time to explore even more routes to success than when you’re already on a winning streak?
From fringe to favourite?
While scientists in January were telling us, for the sake of the planet, to radically cut down on – or eliminate – red meat consumption, they were preaching to an audience that is already heading in that direction, although motivated primarily by the desire to adopt a healthier daily diet.
But while a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle might not be to everyone’s taste, growing numbers are attracted to the flexitarian approach, where meat dishes are either an occasional treat or, at very least, represent a much smaller percentage of everyday eating than before.
The kitchen’s original blank canvas
While we may go potty for pepperoni, mad for a meat feast, or silly for a sloppy Joe, pizza’s place in our hearts relies just as much on the recipes, varieties and toppings that take their inspiration from vegetables, fruits, eggs and sauces. Plus, of course, the secret of any classic pizza…lots of cheese!
In fact, it’s cheese that is often the key to expanding the pizza options on a menu. So much so, that demand for mozzarella has risen by an astonishing 11% since 2017, while other cheeses, like Manchego and naturally smoked, are helping chefs create the styles that cater for the trend towards ‘world’ flavours…ideas imported from South America, the Middle East, Korea…the list goes on.
So…the top tips for cashing in?
Well, the first one is literally about ‘cashing in’. Mozzarella ropes – like the new ‘individually quick frozen’ range from Ornua Ingredients – are all about creating cheesy, stuffed crust pizzas that ooze added value and promise minimal waste thanks to perfect portion control. Plus, of course, cheese offers a real protein punch to pizza, replacing meat as a typical source.
Then there’s positioning. Vegetarian dishes used to be an afterthought on most menus. But not any more! Chefs are increasingly elevating the veggie options to centre-of-plate status. And diners are now visiting restaurants, expecting and demanding a wide choice of vegetarian dishes as part of the mainstream provision, not as a footnote. In fact, these meals are ordered twice as often when they’re not in a vegetarian section.
And finally…Instagram. Believe it or not, pizza is the top ‘Instagramable’ food. Today, we can never, ever, underestimate the power of social media. So the mellow, yellows of stretchy mozzarella, and the gloriously rich colours of vegetables, leaves, olives and eggs, are crying out for a stunning presentation…instant fodder for the snap-happy diner, and brilliant publicity for you.