Pizza popularity boosts Italian food market

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Italian cuisine

Increased consumption of pizza and pasta is expected to drive
growth in the US market for Italian Foods, according to a new

Published by Packaged Facts, the report examines four major categories within the Italian food market: pasta, pizza products, Italian pasta sauce and Italian cheeses. Combined sales within these segments are expected to rise to over $13.8bn in 2011. This compares to $11.9bn in 2006 and $11.5bn in 2005. The report, Italian Foods in the US,​ reveals that the recent market growth of three percent has been driven by the pizza and pizza products category, which accounts for more than 45 percent of total Italian food sales. Sales in this category rose 2 percent in 2006 to reach $5.3bn. The second largest category, pasta sauce, posted four percent growth to $2.6bn. Pasta products revealed the same growth rate and market value last year, while Italian cheeses, the smallest category, saw the largest growth rate in the period. This segment currently has sales of $1.4bn, and experienced significant gains over the last two years due in part to increased demand for natural and gourmet varieties, said Packaged Facts. Mirroring trends seen throughout the food industry in recent years, the Italian food market has also seen a move towards gourmet, natural and organic, as well as health and wellness and convenience. "Italian food marketers have been consciously positioning the health and nutritional benefits of their products. Organics have been embraced by all of the major marketers, which have expanded their organic offerings while keeping an eye on the trends towards 'authentic' Italian cuisine and ultra-convenience that are taking root around the country,"​ said Packaged Facts. However, the research also indicates that in spite of the dynamic health, convenience, and authenticity trends driving the Italian food market, there has been very little change in household penetration over the years. "Our research shows that more households aren't consuming Italian foods. Market growth is coming from Italian food lovers eating increased quantities of diverse Italian fare,"​ said Tatjana Meerman of Packaged Facts. "Specialty Italian foods such as meats, breads, and condiments are making the move into the US market and augmenting the current up-scaling of today's gourmet Italian foods." ​Private label is also an increasing threat to national brands, as retailers gain consumer loyalty by investing heavily in improving the quality of private label foods and beverages. Nevertheless, major food firms still have a strong hold over the Italian foods market. Kraft owns the mass market with a 20 percent market share, and $1.3bn in sales as tracked by Information Resources, Inc. Schwan Foods maintained a market share of half, or 11 percent. Both Barilla and Nestlé experienced sales gains that led to market share gains from just 3 percent in 2002 to 5 percent in 2006.

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