Pizza continues to be one of the top ordered foods at US foodservice establishments. According to The NPD Group, there were 1.2 billion servings of pizza ordered in the quarter ending in June 2021, up +4% from the same quarter last year.

Ingredients are paramount to pizza quality, and US consumers have a growing interest in plant-based proteins as additions to their pizza orders. According to NPD, units of plant-based protein meat analogues and ingredients shipped from broadline foodservice distributors to pizza operators increased by +56% in the second quarter compared to a year ago.

“Plant-based is no longer just a niche player in the foodservice market. It’s a mainstream ingredient that appeals to a broad section of consumers,” says Tim Fires, president of NPD’s SupplyTrack service. “It makes perfect sense that a popular food, like pizza, would now offer plant-based options.”

NPD’s research finds that about 20% of consumers say that they want to increase the amount of plant-based proteins they consume. These ingredients are providing operators with unique opportunities, allowing them to develop recipes and menu offerings that appeal to consumers.

Recently, Pizza Hut partnered with Beyond Meat to debut Beyond Pepperoni, a plant-based version of the popular pizza topping that marks a first for both brands. It’s made from plant-based ingredients including peas and rice and is formulated without GMOs, soy, gluten, hormones, antibiotics or cholesterol.