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Pizza Lovers Don’t Want Healthy or Indulgent Pizza. They Want Both. 

Consumer Insights, CPG & Retail, Food Delivery, Food Trends, Foodservice, Global Flavors, Ingredient Trends, Innovation, Menu Trends

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Choose between healthy and indulgent? Americans don’t want to. When it comes to pizza, they want both. 

That’s according to Datassential’s 2024 Pizza keynote report. Half of all consumers surveyed (51%) agreed equally that pizza is an indulgent meal, and that they prefer pizza made with healthful ingredients. 

This is a symbol of how the worlds of food are colliding today: an increased focus on health in myriad ways, from heart-health to plant-based, while most consumers also want to carve out some meals in which to indulge with abandon. Sometimes both end up on a pizza together, and sometimes we switch off between a healthier order and an all-out greasy pie depending on our moods. 

Indulgent wins out slightly when looking at mega trends within the pizza segment in 2024. Stuffed crust and spins on global and regional varieties hold the most consumer appeal, above pizzas positioned as better-for-you, those targeted for certain diets or pies that have more plant-forward toppings. 

That preference is shifting with younger generations though. Gen Z consumers, for example, are more interested in better-for-you offerings than consumers as a whole: A quarter of Gen Zers (born 1997-2010) are either extremely or very interested. 

Don’t Make Me Choose

When it comes to choosing the best part of the pizza, consumers are also a bit torn (we didn’t offer them an “all of the above” option, sorry!) 

According to more than a third of consumers, toppings are what make a truly great pizza – topping (ha!) the crust, sauce and cheese in terms of importance to the majority of those surveyed. 

Operators should keep this focus in mind when it comes to developing new pizzas or improving existing ones, and when cutting costs, consider sacrificing topping quality as a last resort. 

You’re Not Alone

You’re far from alone in having a weekly pizza night – two thirds of consumers said they had a pizza in the last week. In fact, as a rule, consumers don’t go too long without one of their favorite foods: Only 8% said it had been longer than a month since they ate pizza, compared with 21% who said they’d had pizza in the last two to three days. 

And 87% are eating the same or more than they did last year. Eighteen percent of people say they’re eating more pizza in the last year, but that percentage is double with Gen Z (36%). 

Looking ahead, 90% of consumers expect to eat the same or more pizza in the coming year. Thirteen percent of consumers expect to consume more pizza this year (we want to be friends, call us!) but that percentage more than doubles when just talking to the youngins’: 28%  percent of Gen Z consumers expect to eat more pizza this year.  

Away From Home

While pizza remains one of the most popular foods in the U.S., purchase frequency has decreased since the times of COVID when dining options were limited. 

Pizza consumption away-from-home (restaurants, grocery stores, etc.)  across all segments has declined since the pandemic, when rates of delivery, pick-up, and retail purchases were the highest. 

And where do we get it? A majority (55%) of consumers got their last pizza from a chain restaurant.  A quarter got theirs from a local, independent shop. 

Only 10% from a sit-down restaurant, 5% from a convenience store and 4% got their last pizza from a grocery store prepared foods section.

The Missed Opportunity

There is a missing ingredient for consumers in which their demand far outpaces operator offerings: Stuffed crust. 

Nearly half of all consumers (48%) say they are extremely or very interested in stuffed crust pizzas – especially among younger generations (66% of Gen Z responders and 60% of millennials). Yet only 21% of pizza-serving operators surveyed currently provide stuffed crust options, though 41% of those not currently offering this trend are interested in offering it at their establishment in the future.

This remains a great option for operators wanting to expand their pizza menus without stretching too far beyond the core menu, or adding costs. 

Looking Ahead

Operators are optimistic about their pizza sales this year as well, with nearly all thinking they’ll increase or stay the same. Only 5% expect them to decrease. 

Consumers, on the other hand,  say they’re planning to go to pizza restaurants more often than less often in the coming year. 

To capture higher sales this year, operators should take hold of mega trends in the pizza category, whether it’s adding stuffed crust, trying an artisan style or flatbread – all with higher consumer demand than availability. Beyond American classics, U.S. regional styles, like Detroit’s thick pan crust, are also most desired by more than a third (34%) of consumers. Spicy pizzas, as well as breakfast and dessert pies, also are most interesting to about a quarter of consumers. 


Samantha Des Jardins is the Content Marketing Manager at Datassential. 

Get a sneak peek of the 2024 Pizza keynote report. There’s so much more to the pizza story, though. The full report is available to subscribers, and you can become a subscriber by heading here