ROCKVILLE, MD. — Sales at pizza restaurants in the United States is expected to reach $36.1 billion in 2012, up 4% from 2011, according to Packaged Facts.

Overall, Packaged Facts has found 97% of U.S. adults eat pizza, and 93% have purchased food from a pizza restaurant within the last year. That breaks down to 27% of consumer getting pizza through restaurant delivery or pickup each month, which translates to 410 million pizzas a year. Twenty-six per cent of consumers dine-in at pizza restaurants and 24% of consumers buy frozen pizza.

On the retail side, Packaged Facts expects frozen pizza sales to reach $4.58 billion in 2012 and refrigerated pizza to generate $330 million. Private label sales will continue to grow and take share away from branded products. Among the top 12 frozen pizza manufacturers, significant growth came only from Newman’s Own and Amy’s Kitchen, which had 37% and 10% sales growth, respectively.

Packaged Facts estimates limited-service restaurants will generate $26.2 billion in sales in 2012, representing 79% of U.S. pizza restaurant sales. Full-service restaurants will generate 23% of sales. Pizza restaurants are losing share to other restaurant cuisine formats, but major pizza chains have continued to grow sales with the top 10 chains growing revenue by 9% during 2009 to 2011. Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza, Little Caesars and Papa Murphy’s each grew sales by at least 10% during 2009 to 2011, but Papa John’s grew sales by only 6%.

The survey found a pattern of consumers favoring healthier options and home-based cost-savings at the expense of pizza. David Sprinkle, publisher of Packaged Facts, said the main message to the industry is to enhance the overall healthfulness of pizza and experiment with options providing more clear-cut healthfulness without sacrificing taste. Additional growth opportunities include using fusion cuisine ideas, using pizza to mainstream a wider array of leaner proteins, leverage vegetable varieties, increasing sophistication through premium and more exotic natural cheese and sauce experimentation, and exploiting the on-the-go innovation potential of breakfast.