Merchandising Features / Trend Features
Perishables Spotlight

Pizza Persists

October 4, 2012
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Overall unit sales of milk are down.

Some channels still are experiencing growth.

Opportunities exist for added activity. 


Overall sales may be slipping, but pizza remains one of the kings of the frozen case.

Frozen pizza unit sales totaled 903.4 million for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 12, 2012, down 6 percent from the year-earlier period, reports SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm. Dollar sales fell 3.7 percent.

Analysts attribute a large part of the decline to many consumers cutting their spending in a stagnant economy and only buying essentials.

Indeed, among the top-10 frozen pizza brands, only private-label sales were up over the last year. Private-label selections not only typically cost less than national and regional brands, but more consumers perceive the quality to be as good or better than supplier-branded offerings.

Private-label unit volume totaled 120.9 million, an increase of 8.5 percent from a year earlier, SymphonyIRI Group reports. Private-label dollar sales rose 11 percent.

The prominence of frozen pizza is illustrated by the large merchandising spaces retailers still are dedicating to the category.

Pick’n Save, for instance, has one side of an entire frozen aisle in a Racine, Wis., store earmarked for pizza. Pick’n Save is a chain of 94 supermarkets in Wisconsin owned by Milwaukee-based Roundy’s Supermarkets Inc.

Frozen pizza also is becoming increasingly ubiquitous, with selections being marketed by such untraditional food retailers as drug stores, dollar stores and, in some instances, home improvement centers.

Despite recent sales declines, frozen pizza activity is likely to increase over the next few years, reports Mintel International Group Ltd., a London-based market research firm.

In its June 2011 Pizza at Retail report, Mintel notes that after experiencing 22 percent growth from 2005 to 2009, total U.S. frozen pizza sales fell 0.9 percent in 2010 as many consumers felt the recession was subsiding and they switched to foodservice pizza.

Mintel projects that sales will rebound over the next few years, due in part to more innovative and attractive products being released.

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