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CHICAGO – The market for frozen pizza is hot. New brands are bringing key points of differentiation to the segment while leading brands are adjusting to meet changing consumer purchasing patterns.

“With total sales of $56.7 billion, frozen food is a significant department,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, president, 210 Analytics LLC, San Antonio, Texas, and author of The Power of Frozen Foods 2019, a study published by The American Frozen Food Institute, Arlington, Virginia, and The Food Marketing Institute, Arlington, Virginia. “Pizza is the fourth largest category, behind entrees, ice cream and novelties, and has 70.6 percent household penetration.”

For the 52-weeks ended Nov. 4, 2018, frozen pizza generated $4.9 billion in retail sales, up 3.1 percent from the previous year, according to Information Resources Inc., a Chicago-based market research firm.

“While all shoppers link frozen food to overall convenience, ease of preparation and time savings, core consumers are more likely to value the taste, quality, variety and consistency of the food itself,” Roerink said. “Among 35 percent of shoppers, frozen food is a well-integrated part of their eating routines, both as a backup and planned meal or ingredient solution. More than half of these core shoppers have increased their frozen food purchases in the past year, as they purchase across categories and meal occasions for consumption at home and at work.”

The study identified core shoppers as being younger, many juggling families and careers, and they are focused on convenience in their shopping and meal preparation. They are also adventurous, impulsive and have an interest in health and production claims in frozen food.

“For eight in 10 shoppers, frozen food is a backup or out-of-time solution, particularly in between trips when fresh runs out,” Roerink said. “Better-for-me foods, due to a better nutritional value or health focus, draw the interest of 81 percent of shoppers and 61 percent buy a frozen item to try a new food or cuisine — underscoring the importance of item and flavor innovation.”

As the frozen pizza category diversifies with everything from gluten-free crusts to culinary inspired formulations, there’s something for every day part and many varied dietary preferences. Vegetable-based crusts — broccoli, cauliflower, kale, sweet potato, etc. — are trending, but so are flavorful and often surprising topping combinations, many heavy on the meat and cheese. The Outsiders Pizza Company’s Detroit BBQ Pulled Pork + Bacon with white cheddar and brick cheeses and Milwaukee Spicy Sausage topped with cheese curds is an example. There is also new Devour Carnivore with Applewood smoked bacon, Italian sausage and pepperoni. Spinato’s has a line of broccoli crust pizzas while Real Good Foods offers pizzas with either a chicken breast or cauliflower crust.

To see the full selection of pizza click on the slideshow here.