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BLOGS & OPINION | Staff Reporter, UK
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Could 'Better Pizza' Be the Next Big Thing in the UK?

With a recent report by Euromonitor International on the 'better pizza' trend in the US, we went to find out more about what the report uncovers, and what it could mean for the UK market.

Euromonitor International's recently published report on the American trend towards 'better pizza', noted that it is the next big culinary trend in the West. "With better burgers speeding toward its apex, forward-looking fast casual consumers are looking toward the next big culinary trend, and better pizza seems poised to take up the mantle. These chains aren’t just fast casual pizza chains, they’re artisanal, usually wood-fired and Neopolitan-style pizza concepts that emphasise a fresher, healthier positioning and a whole new kind of pizza dining occasion. They’re customisable and flexible, with strong branding and a focus on ingredients, and they’re spreading quickly across the US with high potential for international expansion over the long-term," noted Elizabeth Friend, Senior Consumer Foodservice Analyst at Euromonitor.

Although wood-fired and neopolitan style pizzas are already commonplace in the UK, given the popularity of pizza, where sales are expected to continue to grow, this trend is of interest to quick service restaurant operators here too.

Karla Rendle, Euromonitor Research Analyst comments on the reports implications for the UK market:

"In the UK the concept of ‘better pizzas’ is not necessarily a new trend as consumers have been offered thin based authentic Pizza’s for a long time, even by the most popular American fast food chains such as Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza. The deep pan pizza style has traditionally not had as much of a preference in the UK compared to countries such as the US, even before health and obesity became a wider concern. Whilst there are some frozen pizza brands such as Chicago Town or frozen food retailer Iceland, which offer a specific line of deep pan pizzas, these are considered more indulgent and less healthy. These foodservice operators and manufacturers have focused on offering healthier pizzas as there is a higher added value attached to it. Less healthy, thick- based pizzas tend to be associated with cheap and cheerful student meals and late night kebab houses in the UK.

However we are seeing an emergence of a few niche pizza brands which focus on emphasising locally sourced and eco-friendly ingredients in a simple format. The GB Pizza Co and Bite Me Pizza are relatively small brands which have recently expanded, offering simple thin pizza bases with the option of a gluten free flour base and a variety of fresh and healthy toppings. Both brands highlight the origin of their ingredients which are locally and ethically sourced from the UK. While the large chained Italian restaurants such as Pizza Express and Zizi also offer gluten free and freshly made thin pizza’s, it is the niche and simple format of these newer brands that mirror the popularity of the fast casual eating style as seen in the better burger outlets. These types of brands focus on offering their one specific food type with the emphasis being on quality ingredients and freshness in a quick and simple and modern environment.

While options for ‘better’ pizzas have been available for some time in the main stream pizza foodservice, it is the niche back to basics style chains which emphasize the notion of guilt free pizzas that we expect to see more of a trend for. As UK consumers are already used to quality authentic pizza’s they won’t be willing to pay a premium for a chain unless there is the additional offering in terms of ethical and ecological standing".

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