CHICAGO — The Pizza Consumer Trend Report by Technomic, Inc. highlights how the recession has altered consumer purchasing patterns. The report said the average consumer eats pizza nearly three times per month and that consumers have been trading down by cutting back on restaurant purchases.

As a result, according to the report, 81% of consumers today said they are buying more frozen pizza, an increase of 7% compared with 2008. In addition, the consumers who participated in the survey, which was conducted on-line and included 1,500 responses, said their perception of frozen pizza quality has improved.

Today, 30% think frozen pizza is of equal or better quality than restaurant pizza, compared to 15% two years ago.

The report’s authors recommended several initiatives food service and frozen pizza manufacturers may implement to improve market performance. Some of the recommendations included innovative specialty toppings, expanded offerings, all natural ingredients and even higher quality frozen pizza.

“Operators and suppliers will want to consider what they can do to elicit consumer cravings through adding new items to their menus and emphasizing them through their marketing message,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president at Technomic. “Differentiation through pizzas that feature unique flavors and taste combinations that consumers cannot purchase elsewhere or make at home will likely help support this effort. Positioning pizza as a meal solution that is easy, convenient and affordable will resonate with many consumers.”