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CHICAGO – With so many toppings to choose from, pizza preferences can vary widely.
A new study by Culinary Visions Panel, a research and trend forecasting firm, revealed that American consumers’ choice of pizza differs depending on their age, gender and where they live.
The firm surveyed 500 U.S. consumers about a variety of pizza offerings and their favorite pizza topping. Participants were presented with the following pizza concepts and asked how likely they would be to order them at their favorite restaurant:
- Meat Lovers: Italian sausage, pepperoni, ham and asiago.
- Four-Cheese: Gorgonzola, goat cheese, mozzarella and parmesan.
- Garden Pizza: Whole-wheat crust, spinach, Roma tomatoes and red peppers.
- Dessert Pizza: Chocolate hazelnut spread and fresh berries.
- Breakfast Pizza: Scrambled eggs, cheddar and sausage.
- Salad Pizza: Romaine lettuce, parmesan and creamy Caesar dressing.
While 76 percent of the consumers surveyed prefer Meat Lovers and 71 percent favored Four-Cheese, men are more likely to order meat toppings, while women favor various cheese toppings.
Men listed their favorite pizza types as Meat Lovers, Breakfast, Salad and Four-Cheese, respectively. Women, on the other hand, were more likely to choose the Garden and Dessert pizzas.
Mozzarella, pepperoni and mushrooms are the top three favorite toppings across the board.
When it comes to meat, consumers list pepperoni, Italian sausage and bacon as their top three. Consumers across all age groups also selected mozzarella and parmesan as their favorite cheeses, with cheddar coming in third in all regions except the Northeast, where they prefer asiago.
“Pizza is indeed America’s comfort food, and it is no surprise that meat and cheese toppings scored high with those we surveyed," said Sharon Olson, executive director of Culinary Visions Panel. "It was also interesting to see that 63 percent of consumers surveyed were likely to order the healthful garden pizza and 50 percent indicated they were likely to order a breakfast pizza.”
Also interestingly, the survey found that pizza offering preferences are consistent across the country, with the exception of the West. Those who live in the Midwest, South and Northeast listed their first pizza preference as Meat Lovers, followed by Four-Cheese and Garden, while consumers in the West indicated they are more likely to order Four-Cheese and Garden before Meat Lovers.
Vegetable pizza topping preferences also vary by region. Onion, green pepper and mushroom are Midwest favorites. Mushroom, olives and onion are preferred by those in the West. Northeast consumers favor mushroom, onion and tomato. And consumers in the South like mushroom, tomato and onion.
Age is a factor in vegetable pizza topping preferences as well, with 18- to 34-year-olds preferring green pepper, onion and mushroom. By comparison, those aged 35 to 54 favor mushroom, onion and olives, while mushroom, onion and tomato are favorites of those 55 and older.
More than any other age group, consumers 18 to 34 years old are the largest demographic who would "definitely" or "probably" order Four-Cheese, Garden, Dessert and Breakfast pizzas.
Compared with other races, Native Americans and Alaskan Americans are most likely to order Dessert Pizza and forego Salad Pizza, the survey also showed.
Based in Chicago, the Culinary Visions Panel is a division of Olson Communications. The firm explores a wide range of culinary topics with food industry professionals and consumers.