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Pizza Industry Report 2011 - Product Diversity, Market Leaders & Business Models (2)

Product Diversity

Pizza is at the top of the list when it comes to variety in product offerings. A few of the more popular varieties include:

  • Chicago Style: Commonly referred to deep dish pizza, Chicago style pizza is made with a heavy, thick crust and large amounts of cheese, sauce and toppings.
  • Detroit Style: A crispy, deep-dish pizza served as a square with toppings such as pepperoni and olives and the sauce on top of the pizza.
  • New York Style: The features that distinguish New York style pizza from others are that it’s typically large, wide, thin and foldable.
  • Neapolitan: A very traditional way of preparing pizza. Neapolitan pizza is prepared in a unique way to preserve the original flavors of its ingredients. The guidelines are so strict for this form of pizza preparation that there is a certification process for pizzerias through VPN Americas,3 the official American organization representing the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), a nonprofit association that strictly safeguards the craft of making Neapolitan pizza. Approximately 50 pizzerias in the United States are VPN certified.4


Market Leaders

U.S. Pizza Sales (January 2009-December 2009)

Pie chart of US Pizza Sales 2009

Sources: The NPD Group via PMQ Pizza Magazine, September 2010 Issue


U.S. Pizza Outlets (as of March 2010)

Pie Chart of US Pizza Outlets 2010

Sources: infoUSA and The NPD Group via PMQ Pizza Magazine, September 2010 Issue


The pizza industry is fairly fragmented: independent pizzerias own roughly 58% of the market. However, the other 42% is made up by the top 50 pizza chains. The top 50 make approximately 48% of the sales, and of these top 50 four companies stand out. They’re known as “The Big Four.”5


The Queen of Pizza
Around 1889, Italy’s Queen Margherita and her husband, Umberto I, were touring the country when she saw peasants eating large, flat bread. The Queen was curious and asked to try the pizza. She loved it so much she brought Chef Rafaelle Esposito to the royal palace and ordered him to bake pizzas for her. To honor the queen, who was so beloved by her subjects, Chef Rafaelle baked a special pizza topped with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil to represent the colors of the Italian flag. This became Queen Margherita's favorite pizza and it was named in her honor, the Pizza Margherita.

Pizza Hut

  • Largest pizza chain in the U.S.
  • Founded in Wichita, Kansas in 1958.
  • Operates over 13,000 units.
  • Located in nearly 100 countries.


  • Second largest pizza chain in the U.S.
  • Founded in Ypsilanti, Michigan in 1960.
  • Operates over 9,000 units.
  • Located in over 60 countries in addition to the U.S.

Papa John’s

  • Third largest pizza chain in the U.S.
  • Founded in Jeffersonville, Indiana in 1984.
  • Operates over 3,600 units.
  • Located in all 50 states as well as over 30 other countries.

Little Caesars

  • Fourth largest pizza chain in the U.S.
  • Founded in Garden City, Michigan in 1959.
  • Operates over 2,500 units.
  • Located in more than 20 international markets along with the U.S.


Business Models

There are three main types of pizzerias:

  • Full service: A full service pizzeria is a sit-down restaurant where the food is served to the table. Many full service pizzerias also offer take-out and delivery services.
  • Limited service: A limited service, or fast food, pizzeria usually doesn’t offer table service. Instead the customer will order, pay and collect their food at the counter. There may be casual diner-style seating available.
  • Non-traditional location: These pizzerias offer products and services at non-traditional locations including office buildings, shopping malls, stadiums, airports, zoos, convenience stores and similar retail facilities. Non-traditional locations will ordinarily only offer take-out and/or delivery services, but may have sit-down facilities depending on the location.


In addition to the top three business models, there is another way consumers are gaining access to the products of pizza franchises: take ‘n’ bake.


This concept is epitomized by Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza. Papa Murphy gives consumers a Subway-esque experience by offering customers the “unique experience of watching their pizza being made fresh before their eyes and then taken home to bake to perfection – hot out of the oven when they want it.”





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