Canadian Pizza Magazine

Current health and wellness trends in pizza: Guest column

By Jane Dummer, RD   

Features Business and Operations In the Kitchen Ingredients editor pick healthy pizza

Pizza is an innovative food, changing and adapting to new trends. It is one of the most widely consumed dishes globally. As health and wellness continues to be on the minds of consumers, the pizza sector is embracing this trend.

From specialty diet options to farm-fresh ingredients, there are many possibilities for that pizza lover with well-being on their plate. According to Pizza Today’s 2024 Pizza Trends report, vegan meat and cheese alternatives, sweet and hot pepper varieties, plus caramelized and pickled vegetables are among the hottest trends in toppings for 2024. 

Pizzerias are looking for the best plant-based ingredients that work for their vegan and meat- and dairy-free customers. Not only for pizza toppings but also for crusts. At the recent ASB BakingTECH 2024 conference in Chicago, I connected with several ingredient suppliers. 

Oscar Carreon, development and technical service manager, AB Mauri North America, says: “Pizza is a very convenient option for many families since it is easy to both prepare or purchase. If finished pizza products also deliver good nutrition and/or health attributes, what a win-win for both manufacturers and their customers.”


Carreon explains: “The vegetarian and vegan markets have been increasing the past few years. More plant-based ingredients are now available for bakers to formulate crusts while incorporating changes in texture, flavour and even statements like, ‘improved with’, ‘addition of’, and ‘formulated with’. Whole wheat, cauliflower-based, gluten-free and thin style – can play an important role in all foods, not just pizza, in the years ahead. If texture and flavour are not impacted, then consumers are open to trying new and different options. 

The big secret: how much of these ingredients can be put in crust formulation without affecting the final product and still deliver good nutrition? At AB Mauri, we continue to work on a variety of new and innovative solutions for the pizza, naan, flatbread and tortilla space.”

Rachel Antalek, Pizza Hut’s new chief food innovation officer, says, “At Pizza Hut, our commitment to modernizing flavours is at the forefront of our brand identity.” 

According to the company’s market research survey of 5,000 American adults (surveyed between December 2023 and January 2024) peppers are on trend, from roasted sweet peppers to bold, spicy peppers. Pizza lovers also shared they’d be willing to try several unusual fruit and veggie toppings on their pizza that they usually wouldn’t go for: pineapple (44 per cent), chili peppers (21 per cent), artichokes (16 per cent), potatoes (15 per cent) and pickles (14 per cent). 

The experts at Pizza Hut predict thin crust will continue to grow in popularity as consumers look for lighter styles of pizza to enjoy. In terms of crust, the recent survey found the most popular types of pizza crust are thin-crust (28 per cent), stuffed-crust (20 per cent) and thick-crust (14 per cent).

Artisan crusts are another favourite for consumers focused on health and wellness. With unique flavour profiles, along with interesting textures, these handcrafted crusts are gaining in popularity. The flavour profiles can come from the unique flour blends and the use of herbs. A Neapolitan-style thin crust is a top trend for 2024 and is thought to have been created in the 1800s in Naples, Italy. It has a very thin crust with dough that puffs up around the sides giving a light, airy, crispy crust. This artisan dough is hand kneaded and is baked in a wood-fired oven for an appealing taste and texture.

Independent pizzerias and restaurants are distinguishing themselves by offering farm fresh, local toppings. This contributes to the wellness of the immediate economy and environment. These regional ingredients include spinach, basil, arugula, specialty mushrooms, fresh garlic, heirloom tomatoes, peaches, potatoes, sweet onions plus specialty cheeses and meats. Recently, I was at my local pizzeria and had the chef add their vegetable medley of the day (zucchini, mushrooms and red peppers) to a thin-crust, meat-forward pizza. Both the chef and server agreed this variety would be a delicious mainstay on their menu. 

The world of pizza is evolving and emerging with delicious, health-forward innovative ingredients that don’t sacrifice texture or flavour. 

Globally, with more than 30 billion pizzas being consumed annually, expect to see more options that emphasize the 2024 health and wellness trends.

Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America.

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