The 2017 International Pizza Expo, held March 27th through 30th, ran throughout last week, and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB) was there, showcasing how chefs can use Wisconsin specialty cheeses to meet consumer demand for three key pizza trends: bold flavors, customization, and authenticity.
In a press release, the association mapped out three ways in which foodservice customers can capitalize on these trends, boost sales, and experience the added benefits of using Wisconsin cheeses.
As flatbread pizzas with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients gain ground on the standard thick crust pie, pizza-makers are combining specialty cheeses to create unique flavor profiles. WMMB featured a Mediterranean-style pizza at the Pizza Expo topped with Klondike Cheese Company's muenster and feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and oregano. The association also highlighted a buffalo and ranch cheese curd pizza featuring Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery's buffalo- and ranch-flavored Wisconsin cheese curd crumbles, sour cream, breaded chicken, and finished with scallions.
"Pizzas need not be just mozzarella anymore," said WMMB Chef Consultant John Esser. "The growing palate of America is looking for blends of Wisconsin cheese that excite their taste buds. A ten percent addition of say, aged provolone, on top of mozzarella, will make the flavor profile jump when it hits your mouth."
According to Technomic, 76 percent of pizza customers prefer to build their own customizable pizza, and these numbers skew even further toward millennial eaters who enjoy putting their personal stamp on their pizza choices. Operators are expanding their cheese options—moving away from the one or two options they had previously offered and embracing new offers, including swiss, burrata, and gouda—three of the fastest-growing cheeses currently used on pizza, all of which can be sourced from America's Dairyland.
Consumers crave authentic, chef-driven specialty pizzas made with seasonal and local ingredients. In the past two years, the specialty pizza category has increased 4.6 percent, and the industry also saw an impressive 64 percent increase in pizza menu mentions of Wisconsin cheese. The WMMB notes that an entrée pizza with Wisconsin cheese typically commands a 14 percent price premium over other entrée pizzas.
For more information and advice on creating pizzas using Wisconsin cheese, check out the WMMB’s website.
For more on exciting food trends and category offerings in the dairy, deli, and bakery industries, check in with us at Deli Market News.