Pizza may have its roots in Italy, but it is now a thoroughly American dish found around the world. Styles and ingredients vary-from New York's thin-crust slices to Chicago's deep-dish pies, from classic pepperoni to the creative ingredients found in California-but cheese topping is a constant. Pizza purveyors make up the largest restaurant industry segment, with more than 70,000 locations in the United States alone (PMQ, 2014). Pizza is already the single biggest use of cheese in foodservice, and growth is expected to continue.
The international appeal is clear: Pizza now appears on menus in more than 120 countries. The wide availability was sparked by U.S. development of low-moisture mozzarella (in both whole milk and part-skim varieties). The creation provides a melting cheese that can be chilled to ship regionally or frozen for international transport. The development of the individually quick frozen (IQF) process gives pizza operators access to a top-quality, universally dependable shredded cheese that minimizes food preparation labor costs.
While the United States dairy industry developed modern "pizza cheese" and perfected the international shipping process, U.S. producers continue to innovate, crafting a wide variety of cheeses to help chefs create unique and delightful pizzas. Learn more about U.S. dairy products by browsing the Product Section.
Two consumer demands drive pizza segment trends: "healthier-for-me" foods and robust flavors. The health trend is expressed with increased use of vegetable toppings in place of meats, as well as a push toward crust varieties that address dietary demands, such as whole wheat or gluten-free. Bold flavor profiles are simple to attain, with mozzarella-based pizza cheese blends that incorporate small amounts of more intense cheeses to provide additional taste satisfaction. Cheese blends can also improve overall performance.
Blends for maximum performance
Part-skim mozzarella remains the dominant product in the pizza cheese market and is likely to maintain its leader status. The most cost-effective option to cover a pizza, part-skim mozzarella browns very well, in a process that also adds deep, rich flavor and partially resists melt flow. Blends that replace 20 to 50% of the part-skim mozzarella with whole milk cheeses like provolone, monterey jack and cheddar provide new flavor twists and improve melt coverage without oiling-off challenges. Colored cheddar is a popular choice, as it provides extra depth to the browning perception.
Specialty and artisan cheeses
Consumer desire for flavor intensity, "healthier-for-me" options and interest in sustainable and natural products create new opportunities for pizzeria use of specialty and artisan cheeses. Blends that incorporate cheeses like feta, blue, parmesan and romano provide tremendous flavor with relatively small usage volume. From major chains with unusual cheese blend menu offerings to local pizzeria partnerships with local cheesemakers to create unique signature items, specialty and artisan cheeses provide pizza with upscale appeal.
Formulas & Recipes
Dough for pizza made with sweet whey powder.
Each serving of this flatbread contains 28% of the Daily Value for protein (14 grams) and 15% of the Daily Value for calcium, as well as a loads of flavor in every bite.
U.S. parmesan cheese in a creamy pesto Alfredo sauce makes a wonderful alternative to a red sauce pizza.