February 9, 2021
Though many may think the hamburger or hot dog is the most American thing to eat, on National Pizza Day, it may be worth considering America’s other favorite food.
Americans certainly love their pizza, with 94% eating it regularly. This has created a vast industry consisting of some 78,092 pizza restaurants generating approximately $46.24 billion in sales in 2020, according to market and consumer data provider, Statista. Tack on the $5.47 billion in frozen pizza sales last year, and we get a savory $50 billion-plus industry made up of billions of pounds of cheese, pepperoni, dough (and sometimes pineapple). While New York City and Chicago are well-known pizza hubs, leading the way in the sheer number of pizza eateries is California, with more than 7,000 (the Empire State comes in second with 5,719).
One of the market leaders in pizza delivery is Domino’s Pizza Inc. (Tii:DPZ). With more than 17,200 stores in over 90 markets that deliver more than 3 million pies a day, Domino’s is the largest pizza restaurant chain in the world based on global retail sales ($14.3 billion in 2019). The company is set to announce 2020 year-end financial results later this month, which is expected to come in strong as consumers turned to delivery options last year amid the pandemic. Domino’s quickly established contactless pickup and delivery procedures, boosting sales as a result.
With more than 5,360 restaurants, Papa John’s International, Inc. (Tii:PZZA) is another giant of the pizza world – the third largest. Sales for the pizza chain rose 14.9% for the nine months ended September 27, 2020 – a trend the company hopes to continue. To that end, Papa John’s introduced a new menu item, the Epic Stuffed Crust, a six-ingredient crust with extra cheese. This is only the second variation of Papa John’s original crust in 35 years (the pizza maker introduced its Garlic Parmesan Crust in 2019).
With 17,639 restaurants, Pizza Hut is another giant of the pizza industry. However, unlike Domino’s and Papa John’s, this Yum! Brands (Tii:YUM) company experienced a 7% decline in worldwide system sales, excluding foreign currency translation. To that end, Yum Brands announced that it is accelerating its investments in digital and technology. Though not as large or widely known as the other players, Dallas-based RAVE Restaurant Group (Tii:RAVE) owns, operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 200 Pie Five Pizza Co. and Pizza Inn restaurants and Pizza Inn Express kiosks domestically and internationally. Shares of the franchisor are up 42% for the year.
Let's not forget the frozen pizza makers. Even the most die-hard of pizza purists have walked the supermarket's frozen foods aisle and picked up a frozen pizza for a quick meal. With more than a dozen menu items, DiGiorno, a Nestlé S.A. (Tii:NSRGF) brand, is one of America’s most popular frozen pizza providers. Its newest offering features a flaky croissant crust.
Through its Totino’s Party Pizza and Jeno’s Crisp ’n Tasty Pizza brands, General Mills, Inc. (Tii:GIS) sells more than 300 million frozen pizzas each year. Its Annie’s natural and organic line offers frozen pizza, pizza poppers and pizza bagels. One of the nation’s top-selling brands, millions of Americans routinely turn to Celeste to fulfill their pizza cravings. Part of Conagra Brands, Inc. (Tii:CAG), Celeste traces its origins back to the 1930s when Celeste Lizio, an immigrant from Southern Italy, opened her first pizzeria in Chicago.
Whatever your preference, why not observe National Pizza Day with a hot, cheesy slice or two with your favorite toppings? It’s the American thing to do.