If Americans could have only one food item for the rest of their lives, they’d belly up for pizza. According to a 2021 Harris Poll, 21 percent of us would rather have a slice morning, noon and night than a steady diet of tacos, burgers or another option on the fan-favorites menu. But even if you’re not signing up for never-ending pizza just yet, there’s no arguing with the fact that the ubiquitous meal in the shape of a pie is a honey of a choice – any way you slice it.
Exhibitors at the recent International Pizza Expo & Conference were certainly feeling that kind of love. Hormel Foods and a host of other vendors, restaurateurs, business planners and more were on hand at the 37th annual Las Vegas event to let attendees in on everything they need to know about pizza. The excitement was predictable enough; the interest in plant-based toppings and a few other trends was a bit of a twist.
“From Pizza Hut to Little Caesars, more pizzas are piling on the plant-based food toppings. From sausage to pepperoni, the options are more than just a pile of greens,” wrote Christine Struble. According to Claire Nowak in her story for Reader’s Digest, “… almost half [of those surveyed] feel less guilty about eating pizza if it includes vegetables, either as a topping or a veggie-based crust.”
Struble, a writer for Foodsided.com, went to Anthony Panichelli to get his take on what’s new in the world of pizza. As a Hormel Foods brand manager who oversees the company’s enviable pizza-toppings business, he keeps his finger on the pulse of pizza perfection. Talk about a job made in heaven.
Panichelli offered five trends worth watching – or better yet – trying. First on his list was plant-based toppings, the biggest trend he saw at Pizza Expo this year. He no doubt puffed up just a tad, given his company’s entrée into the space.
Trends Worth Watching In Pizza
Hormel Foods launched its Happy Little Plants® brand in 2019 as a delicious alternative to pork, beef, chicken and the like. In 2021, it expanded the line with a Happy Little Plants® selection that serves as a tasty, veggie-based topping for those who crave meatless pepperoni. Given the company’s cred in this space – Hormel® pepperoni is the No. 1 brand in America – the hype is real.
“Since Hormel knows about great tasting pepperoni, it is putting its expertise to the test. The Happy Little Plants® pepperoni-style topping is a bold flavor in the plant-based food space. Blending the seasonings of paprika, garlic and peppers, this flavorful offering could make even that staunch carnivore satisfied,” Struble said.
Next up, seeded crusts. “For some people, the crust is the best part of the pizza,” she wrote. Why not show it some love with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, everything seasoning. The options are endless. “Just make sure that the flavors do not overwhelm each other,” Struble warned.
Panichelli’s next trend is harder to imagine: infused fresh cream that “elevates the flavor” and “turns pizza into a culinary adventure.”
Cacio e pepe – translated as cheese and pepper, and celebrated for its simplicity – is gracing pizza these days as well. Along with the trend of drizzling hot honey on your pie, it might not be for everyone. Nor will it likely rival the classic pepperoni pie as our go-to, but isn’t it fun to change it up a bit?
Especially if you’re going to be eating it for the rest of your life.