The COVID-19 pandemic has affected not only where and how Americans eat but also what they choose to eat.
Thirty-three percent of consumers surveyed by Datassential said they were eating comfort foods more often now than before COVID-19. At the same time, however, 25% of consumers said they were eating healthy and better-for-you foods more often now.1 For retailers, offering foods that fit both of those categories can lead to increased sales.
Pizza Provides Comfort
Comfort foods often produce a sense of nostalgia. And when it comes to comfort foods, pizza tops the list. It’s no surprise that when asked what food they want from restaurants during the coronavirus crisis, 63% of consumers chose pizza.1
Pizza is a time-honored tradition, and more than 8 out of 10 Americans eat pizza at least once a month.2 Because consumers also say they prioritize healthy food options, it may not be surprising that Grubhub ranked pizza with a cauliflower crust as the most popular food in 2019.
Consumers Seek Plant-Based Options
More than half—51%—of consumers are opting for plant-based foods as a way to incorporate more minimally processed foods into their diets.3
Consumers believe that eating more plant-based foods will help them achieve a more balanced diet. As a result, consuming plant-based alternatives is becoming part of the mainstream narrative of what it means to “eat better.”4
Growing concerns around safety and transparency have driven consumers to choose plant-based options, too. They’re seeking clean-label offerings made without artificial flavors and colors, high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils. Eighty-two percent of plant-based purchasers say they always read the ingredients/nutrition facts on foods/beverages.5
That said, taste remains the primary factor in purchasing decisions. Sixty-five percent of consumers said taste is the main driver of their plant-based purchases.6
Plant-based options have seen extraordinary growth in the restaurant industry. Since 2018, menu penetration of plant-based offerings has increased 328%7, and the market has exploded with 62% growth in launches of plant-based options.8
Plant-Based Pizza: Customers’ New Favorite Food
C-stores looking to satisfy consumers can easily expand their menus to include plant-based crusts. Options exist to fit every kitchen, from par-baked crusts and flatbread to ready-to-stretch dough. These on-trend offerings will help c-stores compete for the consumer’s share of stomach and wallet.
Rich Products recently launched an expanded plant-based pizza and flatbread portfolio, with each product composed of at least 20% vegetables. This recent expansion includes trend-forward options made with zucchini and sweet potato, in addition to its popular cauliflower and broccoli crusts.
As restaurants continue to operate at reduced capacity for the time being, consumers continue to look for alternative food sources, and the convenience industry has an unprecedented opportunity to win new customers by offering delicious new options. Because it travels well, pizza is an ideal takeout food. C-stores should consider adding plant-based pizza to their curb-side pick-up, takeout and delivery menus. And by focusing on plant-based menu items, c-stores can help create a sense of permissible indulgence.
To learn more about Rich’s plant-based pizza options, please visit richsfoodservice.com/plant-based-solutions/.
1. Datassential Webinar: “Refusing to Shut Down,” April 3, 2020
2. Technomic 2018 Pizza Consumer Trend Report
3. Nielsen Homespun Panel Protein Survey, 2017
4. Food + Technology 2019
5. 2019 Food and Technology Report, The Hartman Group
6. Datassential/IFMA Study, 2017
7. Datassential Menu Trends, 2019
8. Nielsen Total Consumer Report 2019
This post is sponsored by Rich Products