Own label frozen pizza sales high

Own label is king in pizza, with 65.5% of the category’s value across chilled and frozen

Own label is king in pizza. It accounts for 65.5% of the category’s value across chilled and frozen. And it consolidated its power in the past 12 months, as brands cut back on promotions and shoppers traded down amid the cost of living crisis.

The year ends with branded volumes  down 3.9% and own label down 2.1%.

However, that dynamic has already begun to change. “Promotions are now back on the menu. This is helping to slow the shift from brands into private label,” says NIQ senior analyst Carol Ratcliffe.

Premium supermarket pizza brands

And it’s the posher brands that are capitalising. “Premium brands, such as Crosta & Mollica and Zizzi, are helping shoppers to recreate the restaurant experience at home at a fraction of the price,” Ratcliffe adds. 

“They are also attractive to retailers, helping them drive value into the category through prices that are much higher than the core mainstream brands.”

Indeed, Crosta & Mollica and Zizzi have both grown value and volumes, raking in an extra £8.6m in total and shifting 513.6k extra kilos of pizza. Crosta & Mollica also benefited from range extensions and a TV sponsorship deal with Channel 4 Food.

Bigger names are also eyeing demand for restaurant-style fare. In September, Pizza Express unveiled the “biggest ever” overhaul of its retail offer and added premium range Restaurant Favourites. “We’ve introduced a refreshed look and feel, using phrases such as ‘bigger, tastier, fancier’,” says retail director Rich Mills.

Category leader Dr Oetker Ristorante has had a makeover, too, launching posher frozen tier Primo in August, to boost its 2.3% volume gain (see Top Launch below).

Ristorante’s stablemate and category leader Chicago Town has had a quieter year, though. Its value has surged 18.4% – but that’s almost entirely due to a 17.7% increase in average price per kilo; volumes are up just 0.6%.

Supermarket pizza category sales volumes

“Big mainstream brands have been struggling to maintain volumes in the face of higher costs, private label gains, premium pizza growth, and overall category volume decline,” Ratcliffe explains.

For its part, Chicago Town has been working to grow volume sales. In February, it launched a six-week TV push, and then added the likes of Deep Dish Vegan BBQ Chick’n and Pepper-No-Ni Saucy Vegan Stuffed Crust.

Some smaller names have struggled even more than pizza’s powerhouse. Gino D’Acampo shed £3.8m and 60.5% of volumes after losing its exclusive Iceland listing. It’s now in Asda, but as Ratcliffe notes, it “has a smaller share of frozen”. free-from brand White Rabbit also lost 10.7% of volumes after its chilled pizzas disappeared from Morrisons at the beginning of the year.

Top Launch 2023

Ristorante Primo | Dr Oetker

Dr Oetker Ristorante Primo

Dr Oetker added a posher tier of its frozen Ristorante brand in August, in the hope of luring shoppers from chilled and out of home. Called Primo, it comprises the thin-crust duo Salame Piccante Nduja and Pollo Funghi Truffini (350g-380g). With an rsp of £4.40, they’re 15% pricier than the core Ristorante lineup. Primo, therefore, offers a “midway point” between standard Ristorante pizzas and “super-premium” frozen options from the likes of Zizzi and Crosta & Mollica, claims Dr Oetker.

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