Coming out of the International Pizza Expo, which took place last month in Las Vegas, pepperoni maker Hormel Foods has a pulse on the latest topping trends to help operators elevate their pizza games.

Kyle Flottman and Colby Strilaeff, both brand managers at Hormel Foods, have spent years working in the pizza-toppings business, and after experiencing the annual Vegas trade show and its 444 exhibitors, have identified five key trends to look for in the coming months.

The rise of culinary travel and regional flavors

“One of the fastest growing trends in pizza is international flavors, with Thai, Vietnamese and Mexican flavors topping that ever-growing list,” says Kyle Flottman. This can include everything from familiar favorites like chorizo to bold flavors like salsa verde and chicken tinga.

Use of non-traditional ingredients

Plant-based, dairy-free and pickle pizza are just a few variations that are trending in the pizza world.

Cupping sausage

The popularity of cupping pepperoni has reached an all-time high. In response, Hormel Foods introduced yet another cupping item to its portfolio of foodservice products.

“We recently launched and introduced the new Fontanini cup-and-char sausage at this year’s International Pizza Expo with great success,” says Colby Strilaeff. “We couldn’t think of a better combination than Rosa Grande pepperoni and Fontanini cup-and-char sausage on any size or style of pizza, including deep dish.”

Spicy and complex flavors

“Many consumers tie food choices to self-expression,” says Flottman. “Consumers want spicy, complex flavors on their pizza pies. And we’re not just talking sweet and spicy. Consumers are bending the flavor system with some unlikely matchups, such as chili-dog pizza and Thai curry chicken pizza.”

Cup-and-char pepperoni post bake

Vincent Rotolo from Good Pie in Las Vegas helped launch this trend on social media by heaping a pound of pepperoni onto the restaurant’s signature ‘Triple Pep’ pizza, a culinary creation that involves cooking half of the pepperoni in a pan and then placing it on top of the finished pizza.