Foodservice industry analyst and guru, Nancy Kruse had something to say about pizza at the recent Trends and Directions Conference hosted by the Chicago-based food industry consulting firm, Technomic. Ms. Kruse appeared at the Chicago Convention Center to talk about menu trends and suggested that the pizza industry might revitalize itself in the near future by focusing more on the quality of pizza crust than on an endless parade of new toppings.
Offering premium pizza crusts certainly can’t hurt in a segment that is predicted to shrink one half percent from 2009 to 2010. The proliferation of $10 pizza deals has taken the luster off that approach and new marketing concepts for the limited-service pizza restaurant segment were not hot topics at the conference and absent from the top-segments-or-brands-for-growth lists.
Kruse suggested that movement towards premium crusts offers the best hope for consumers to identify the specialized pizza trend, just like the better burger trend helped drive 16.7 percent one-year growth in that segment for 2009. Kruse predicted that if the “ancestral grain” concept of New Orleans-based Naked Pizza and the “natural” approach of Minneapolis-based Punch Pizza can catch on with consumers, crust upgrades at all mainstream pizza chains shouldn’t be far behind.