What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas in some cases, but not when it comes to industry trends. The International Pizza Expo & Conference was a great opportunity for foodservice professionals to take tips, tricks and delicious ideas back home, serving as a springboard for many of the year’s hottest trends.
The Consumer Experience
John Arena, a third-generation pizza chef at one of the 10 best pizzerias in the country and avid teacher in the art of making pizza, spoke at Pizza Expo. “We’re always thinking about the customer experience. Wonderful flavor, wonderful texture and a surprise that is beyond what is expected,” he said. “That’s when you hook a customer for life. When appealing to all five senses — it even needs to sound good. We want contrasting flavors and textures, but also a crunch.”
There’s a tremendous evolution of pizza, even in New York, and Arena echoed what many foodservice professionals are trying to implement: If you’re doing what you were doing 50 years ago, you may not have changed, but the pizza world and customers have changed.
Pizza Making Innovation
Rich’s Chef Matt Eisenhour completed the entire Pizza Expo pizza making/demo experience with two LloydPans for his gluten-free crust pepperoni pizza. “Everything else kept sticking. If that’s not a testimonial, I don’t know what is.” The right pan makes all the difference, but there were other innovative concepts to emerge from the show:
- Adding a true international flair to Pizza Expo, sweet heat with a global influence was a key trend. Hot honey, ghost and jalapeno cheese, raspberry chipotle pepper salsa and smoked mozzarella were aplenty.
- Plant-based ingredients and crusts: Better-for-you gluten-free crusts will rise 27% on menus in the next four years, and cauliflower crusts are preferred by 12% of consumers.
- Pepperoni? Yes, even THE staple of all pizza making, pepperoni, trended at Pizza Expo. Beyond Pepperoni made its foodservice launch at the Expo, complete with a vegan option. It cooks up with crispy, curled edges, which is good to have since Hormel — a preferred pepperoni provider of the majority of LloydPans customers — said in its Pizza Toppings trend report that cupping pepperoni has reached an all-time high in popularity. And Fontanini cup-and-char sausage with Rosa Grande pepperoni was launched at Pizza Expo, a favorite of the LloydPans team.
Grilled pizza is positioned to be a hot trend this summer with pizzerias taking the outdoor American staple indoors. Look for aforementioned toppings and flavors — like Southern U.S.-inspired barbecue — to take center stage, along with cauliflower, gluten-free and plant-based doughs. Regional styles that were displayed at Pizza Expo, namely Sicilian, Detroit and Neapolitan will emerge on grills across the country.
Need the perfect pan for the perfect summer pizza? Look no further to LloydPans for a wide range of cutting edge Pizza Pans.