Deep pan, stuffed crust, on the sofa, in a restaurant, gluten-free, vegan, and even meat feast – there’s a million ways to enjoy a pizza.

With so much competition, the industry’s chefs and developers are always keen to find the next big thing. British Baker visited the European Pizza and Pasta Show to find out what’s hot in pizza…

Flour power

A bog standard white base just won’t cut it anymore as consumers are thinking more carefully about the base of their pizza as well as what goes on top of it. One thing was clear at the show, they will be spoiled for choice soon enough.

Italian miller Polselli is offering up a host of interesting, and in some cases rather unusual, flours for use as pizza bases. There’s paprika, turmeric and even hemp-infused flours bringing vibrant tastes and colours to the mix. Bringing texture is the multi-cereal whose ingredients include wholemeal spelt flour, wholemeal barley flour, amaranth seeds and chia seeds.

Eurostar Commodities is also getting in on the action with its Della Terra range of Italian 00 flour blended with powdered vegetables. The range is made up of beetroot, sweet potato, spinach and spelt variants which Eurostar said are naturally higher in fibre and protein.

Delivering the future

As the late Freddie Mercury once sang “I want it all, and I want it now”. That’s pretty much how Brits feel when it comes to pizza. Luckily, the industry is responding.

Smart Pizza is hoping to offer pizza-lovers access to their favourite Italian food 24/7 by partnering with existing pizzerias via the installation of a free-standing vending machine (right).

“Restaurants can use the machines to run 24 hours a day,” Smart Machine’s Jamel Hamzaoui told British Baker at the show. “It allows them to sell their own products even when they’re shut.”

The pizzas go into the machine par-baked and are finished cooking once a customer has ordered one. This can be done via an app for pick-up or at the machine. What’s more, consumers can choose to buy the pizza hot or cold, giving them the option to finish cooking it at home.

Smart Pizza owner API Tech opened a trade office in London in August 2018 with the hope of gaining traction in the UK market, following success elsewhere in Europe.

Health and pizza?

Pizza isn’t exactly synonymous with health but there are some who believe it could be, with a few tweaks of course. It’s particularly pertinent after Public Health England launched a new campaign earlier this year to slash the calorie content of certain foods, including pizza, by 20% by 2024.

One example seen at the European Pizza and Pasta Show was Pizza Power Kids, manufactured by Victor Pizza. The “health by stealth” approach to pizza has taken a number of steps to reduce the fat, salt and sugar content of pizza compared to leading brands. Notably, it boasts a much less salt as it has been replaced with seaweed (which has less than 10% of the sodium content of salt).

But it’s not all about what’s been taken out of the pizza. Pizza Power Kids also sneaks extra fibre into the base through the use of husk as well as extra vegetables into the sauce.

Adding more nutritional ingredients is also where the more unusual and vegetable-based flours mentioned above come in with many of the ingredients bringing their own benefits to the party.

Raising the dough

Pizza restaurants are in a race to the bottom as the independents seek to compete on price with the likes of the industry’s biggest players. That’s according to Geoff Parsons, managing director at Basilico – a small chain of London-based pizza restaurants.

Problem is, customers have come to expect a deal on pizza whether they’re eating in or ordering for delivery due to the prolific use of discount vouchers.

“Find a niche,” advises Parsons, “have one or two products you don’t have to go head to head on.”

This is echoed by Ashley Preston, national account manager at Eurostar Commodities who believes a little innovation can go a long way – and allow pizzerias to charge a bit more for their products.

“Pizzas are losing their value so innovation and NPD can help create excitement,” he said.

That’s where the use of interesting flours comes in. Just as consumers will pay more for a loaf of sourdough compared to white bread, they will splash out on a pizza with a sourdough base or one that includes vegetables and even ancient grains.