Serving up Data Bites, One Slice at a Time
March 14, or 3.14, is National Pi Day. A day when America pays homage to the mathematical constant π. Pi is that unique, never repeating or ending, fraction that many of us remember from geometry class -- the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. So it’s appropriate that we celebrate with food in the shape of a circle. Many grocery stores offer deals on pizza pies, fruit pies and even chicken pot pies. There is no doubt a pie for everyone.
For this year’s Pi Day, we’re slicing into the frozen pizza pie. Pizza is a favorite meal among Americans. In fact, Pizza.com claims that Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day, or about 350 slices per second. Each person in America eats about 46 pizza slices per year. That’s a lot of cheesy goodness.
But we can’t always make it out to our favorite pizza joint to pick up a fresh pie full of our favorite toppings. For those busy weeknights when we crave a quick pizza fix, sometimes a frozen one will have to do. But are there better-for-you options if you choose the convenient route?
A recent survey of consumers found that 67 percent Americans are prioritizing healthy or socially-conscious food purchases in 2018. For many, maintaining healthy or socially-conscious eating habits will mean choosing a gluten-free, vegan, ketogenic or Paleo diet to serve as a guide. In fact, 20 percent of Millennials report they are likely to follow one of these diets in 2018. For some diets, pizza may still be on the menu. Here are some insights if you are looking for options that meet your diet guidelines -- or if you’re looking to indulge.
There are nearly 2,300 frozen pizza options to choose from. Most contain milk, wheat or soy -- which are not compliant for some diets such as gluten-free or Paleo. However some brands are producing options that serve consumers adhering to these popular diets. For example, 84 products make a gluten-free claim, and a handful of pizzas are labeled low carb, or use a cauliflower crust -- an increasingly popular option for anyone avoiding gluten or trying to cut carbs.
There are also options for those watching sodium intake (4 low sodium products) and one product is labeled with a “heart healthy” claim. Additionally, some package claims such as “artificial flavor free” or “preservative free” will be applicable to those trying to eat cleaner this year.
In looking at the most popular topping ingredients, there are no surprises here. Tomato paste, pork -- likely sausage -- and mozzarella cheese (regular and reduced fat) top the charts. Perhaps the one unlikely twist worth noting: pork (#2) beat out pepperoni (#10) by a wide margin. A little further down the list we find the typical spices: garlic powder, garlic, paprika, basil and oregano.
The next time you’re craving that quick pizza fix and take a stroll down the frozen food aisle, rest assured that there is a likely an option that meets your needs. Brands are increasingly creating new products that not only address consumer desires around ingredients, but also for more transparent and informative labeling.
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