Food & Beverage Perspectives
pizza and pepsi

Pizza and PepsiIts Whats for Dinner

<p>Pizza is quite popular with kids and it&#8217;s a big contributor to their calorie intake. The latter makes sense given that pizza is on a quarter of all kids&#8217; restaurant menus, according to a new report from Packaged Facts.</p>

It’s your lucky week; I’m blogging about pizza not only once, but twice. And this blog comes with a bonus: soda.

As I said in yesterday's blog, pizza is quite popular with kids and it’s a big contributor to their calorie intake. The latter makes sense given that pizza is on a quarter of all kids’ restaurant menus, according to a new report from Packaged Facts—Pizza Market in the U.S.: Foodservice and Retail, 2nd Edition.

“The family demographic is important for restaurant marketers to target," said Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle. “Pester power and acceptance by kids does influence parent choice in where to dine. As such, it’s imperative to ensure kids’ menus feature familiar food favorites like pizza."

Despite the prevalence of pizza on kids’ menus, there is a war brewing. The nationwide shift toward health and wellness has put an unflattering spotlight on these circular receptacles of cheesy deliciousness, Packaged Facts pointed out. And with good reason. Pizza tends to have a junk-food association and alignment with indulgence. And because of pizza’s craveable quality, menu developers work to push the envelope in terms of indulgence to create the unexpected in the form of concoctions that do little to guide pizza in the direction of anything that would ideally be part of a well-balanced diet.

Well, that kind of answers my question from yesterday: What type of pizza are these kids eating? Apparently not the kind I’m eating. They are devouring the junk-food version of pizza.

But negatives aside, both the retail and foodservice pizza sectors grew in 2014. Retail sales of frozen and refrigerated pizza exceeded $5 billion, while restaurant pizza sales reached $41 billion last year, according to Packaged Facts. Continued growth in both the retail and foodservice pizza markets will require embracing the emphasis on health and wellness. The market research firm said industry players must work to improve pizza nutritional profiles to create a healthy halo for their retail and restaurant offerings.

“To gain parent approval, focusing on healthier kids’ menu items is a top trend," Sprinkle noted. “Moving beyond the ubiquitous kids’ menu options and putting more thought behind healthy kids’ menu items is tantamount to success. Such efforts are essential to repositioning pizza as an option Americans of all ages can feel good about eating."

The firm said for segments such as frozen pizza, innovation focusing on quality ingredients and natural/organic positioning is necessary to combat attrition. While other pizza industry segments may benefit from utilizing local sourcing to gain traction with the health-conscious crowd, including parents.

California Pizza Kitchen, Pizzeria Locale and Pizza Hut have taken steps to innovate toward healthier options. Likewise, one of the more notable recent menu adjustments came from Applebee’s, which in 2014 rolled out a new kids’ menu, with 10 meals meeting the standards set forth by the Kids LiveWell initiative. Cheesy Bread Pizza is featured as a new addition.

Way to go Applebee’s!

And what goes better with healthy pizza (other than a glass of red wine if you’re over the age of 21) than a healthy cola? As reported by The Wall Street Journal, PepsiCo. Inc. is rolling out limited quantities of Pepsi True, its stevia-sweetened cola, in stores in Denver, Minneapolis and Washington. So what better to go with your kids’ healthy pizza than a lower-calorie, naturally sweetened cola?

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