In what appears to be another sign that consumers are trimming restaurant spending, foodservice consultants Technomic found that consumers have shifted their pizza-ordering habits, cutting back on weekdays but ordering more often on weekends.

In 2006, Technomic found that 35 percent of consumers indicated that they would primarily order pizza for dinner during the week, and just over a quarter (28 percent) typically ordered pizza for dinner during the weekend. Today’s consumers, however, report that they order pizza for dinner on the weekend (32 percent) slightly more than they do during the week (29 percent).

“We believe that increasing consumption of pizza on weekends over weekdays is likely tied to consumers’ desire for more economical options,” says Darren Tristano, Executive Vice President of Technomic Information Services. “Instead of going out for a sit-down meal during the weekend and ordering pizza for dinner during the week, consumers are scaling back by having an affordable pizza meal on the weekend and preparing more weekday meals at home.”

The survey was conducted for Technomic’s new Pizza Consumer Trend Report. Other findings presented and interpreted in the report include:

* When eating pizza, health and wellness is a concern for 69 percent of consumers, yet half these consumers do not let their concerns influence their consumption behavior. To appeal to those truly interested in healthier alternatives, pizza operators must not sacrifice taste, focusing instead upon ingredients that carry a health halo, such as those which are coined as all-natural, fresh, and artisan.

* Frozen pizza has become increasingly competitive with foodservice pizza, both in terms of overall quality and in providing an affordable pizza option. For foodservice pizza to compete, they will need to focus marketing efforts on what differentiates these products from retail options and why they provide an overall better value.

* Consumer preferences, particularly for pizza crust and sauce, vary regionally and ethnically. For example, sweet sauces are favored by more consumers in the Northeast (25 percent) than among Southern (18 percent), Midwestern (17 percent), and Western (13 percent) consumers. Also, pesto-flavored sauce was preferred by 14 percent of all consumers; Asians, however, chose pesto more than any other ethnic group (24 percent).

The Pizza Consumer Trend Report was developed to give operators and foodservice suppliers market and consumer insights to drive business-building efforts in the pizza category. It includes over 450 pages of reporting and data tables on pizza customers, menus, and competitors, based on a survey of over 1,500 consumers, as well as Technomic’s proprietary MenuMonitor database.

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