Power to the Pizza! A Foodservice Staple Continues to Drive Profits with Delivery

Posted in Technology on December 1, 2020

294_jordan-nix-aXf3mG4zjlU-unsplashStrong off-premises capabilities have become the not-so-secret sauce of success for foodservice operators during the COVID-19 crisis. Pizza chains in particular have  become delivery powerhouses.

Now, pizza giant Papa John’s has reasserted its status as a Big Daddy of delivery, serving up a robust third quarter performance that included a 23.8% increase in same-store sales in North America and 20.7% sales growth internationally.1

The chain's recipe for resiliency fuses menu innovation and delivery to drive sales growth. New menu items like the Shaq-a-Roni—an extra-large pizza created in partnership with pro basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal and topped with extra cheese and end-to-end pepperoni—have helped Papa John’s achieve its most impressive balance sheet in three years.1

Tailored to changing consumer behavior, ticket add-ons are also adding up to a hearty boost for the bottom line. The pizza chain’s popular Papadias—a mashup that merges pizza and calzone in a flatbread-style sandwich—is an example of the new items driving higher check averages.

“What we’re finding is that our new items like the Papadias are incredibly incremental,” explained Ron Lynch, CEO of Papa John's. “People are adding Papadias to their regular pizza order, which creates ticket growth."

Core pizza innovation is also a priority. "We just launched the double cheeseburger pizza and double cheeseburger Papadia," Lynch continued. "I can see that going on for a while, where we’re able to leverage innovation in both pizza and Papadias. It’s easy on our supply chain and on operations, so it’s a great opportunity.”1

The menu innovation pipeline has helped propel third-party delivery sales, which have tripled in 2020, as well.1 Digital is the chain’s fastest-growing platform, accounting for approximately 70% of sales, according to Lynch, who called third-party aggregators “part of our profitability growth story.”1 In the last quarter alone, Papa John's acquired 8 million new members through digital channels, and it plans to customize member discounts based on purchasing patterns.1

Data from the market research firm Technomic confirms that the pizza category is showing sustained popularity. In fact, Technomic found that 69% of surveyed consumers choose to carry out their pizza, while 71% opt for delivery.2

Pizza also claims a big slice of the pie as an off-premises lunch option. It ranks No. 3, just below burgers and sandwiches, with 52% of consumers choosing delivery and 48% favoring takeout.3 Technomic cites pizza’s “portability and ubiquity at restaurants, particularly at fast-food concepts” as factors in its enduring appeal.3

Though not as well-known as Papa John’s, the Marco’s Pizza chain has cashed in on pizza’s perpetual popularity with heavy investments in off-premises business and delivery capabilities, resulting in a 24% boost in same-store sales.4 Spurred by the pandemic, Marco’s Pizza moved swiftly to meet the changing needs of consumers and employees with new technologies such as kitchen automation, smaller pod kitchens, and virtual restaurants.4

“We took quick steps to adapt our approach to technology to make sure that, for example, contactless delivery was something we got in front of,” said Tony Libardi, president and chief operation officer of Marco’s Pizza.4 “We started looking at developing automation in order to, again, keep employees safe. We embarked on a whole new internal strategy in terms of automation and other technology based on our employees and customers’ safety concerns.”4

For innovative culinary add-ons, creative pizza concepts, and fresh ideas to enhance any menu, trust the acclaimed chefs and world-renowned brands at Mondelēz International Foodservice. Any challenges or opportunities we can help you navigate? Reach out below for a taste of what we offer.


1 Fantozzi, Joanna, “Papa John’s delivery performance remains strong as company swings to a profit,” Nation’s Restaurant News, Nov. 5, 2020

2 Delivery & Takeout Consumer Trend Report (Technomic, 2020), p. 108

3 Delivery & Takeout Consumer Trend Report (Technomic, 2020), p. 107

4 Fantozzi, Joanna, “Marco’s Pizza bets on delivery technology, automation and ghost kitchensNation’s Restaurant News, Nov. 6, 2020


Topics in this article

Related Articles

Right Bites: Restaurants Rework Menus for Snack-Happy Market

As small bites replace large meals, restaurant operations adjust menus for all-day snacking. Explore key data behind the latest trends in small plates.

Oh Dough They Didn't! Upstart Pizza Chains Cook Up New Recipes for Success

As a versatile staple, pizza continues to power sales. Lean how fast-casual restaurant chains Pie Five and 7Pie are taking pizza innovation to new levels.

Next Course: 2023 Foodservice Tech Trends

Explore why two foodservice trends--off-premise restaurant formats and artificial intelligence systems--are poised to rise to new heights in 2023.

Hot Sellers: Summer Flavor Forecast Calls for Wave of Appetite-Whetting Trends

Summer sizzles with seasonal staples and trending twists on old favorites. Explore flavor forecasts from Datassential and EatingWell for summer menu ideas.

All About Newstalgia in Desserts

Tweaking familiar dishes to include a new flavor or format could be the menu addition that will pique consumer interest and help increase sales.

No Sustain, No Gain: Foodservice Feeds Bottom Line with Sustainability and Wellness

Sustainability has become a core catalyst for foodservice success. Explore how True Food Kitchen and Mondelēz International exemplify the sustainability trend.

Smaller, Faster, Smarter: Automated Restaurant Formats Feed the Future of Foodservice

Sweetgreen, Chili's and Panera are adopting lean, automated restaurant formats. Learn how automation is transforming the restaurant industry.

Beverages and Desserts Fuel Flavor Inspiration

Inspired by classic beverage elements, operators are creating new dessert menu items — as well as drinks that feature dessert flavors.

Metaverse Measures Up, Major Restaurant Brands Dig In

Top restaurant chains are hungry to tap the promotional potential of the metaverse. Explore Jimmy John's and Pizza Hut's ambitious metaverse initiatives.

Va-Va-Vending: Technology Transforms Vending Machines into 24/7 Restaurants

No longer just a source for prepackaged snacks, vending machines are now purveyors of gourmet-quality meals. Explore two revolutionary vending machines.

Join the Let’s Chat Snacks Community

Be the first to know when we drop new articles, trends and insights, with updates delivered directly to your inbox. Plus, you’ll get an insider perspective on all things foodservice, carefully curated to help you grow your business.