LAS VEGAS — The Ardent Mills culinary team showcased top flour-and-grain trends at the recent International Pizza Expo 2019, where pizza-making experts and enthusiasts from across the restaurant industry gathered.

Laurie Scanlin, R.&D. culinary manager with the R.&D. culinary team at Ardent Mills, said consumer preferences are changing, “and new flour choices, as well as heirloom and ancient grains, are bringing new textures to crust and meeting the growing demand for plant-forward pizza.”

Ardent Mills served up a variety of brick-oven style pizzas featuring ancient and heirloom grains. Here are trends to watch:

The Real Deal

Authenticity is increasingly important to pizza eaters; 49% desire authentic pizza offerings, and it doesn’t get more authentic than traditional Neapolitan-style pizza. Authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas use imported “00” flour from Italy, which is quite costly. Ardent Mills’ Primo Mulino Neapolitan-Style Pizza Flour uses wheat grown and milled in North America, providing the same crispy yet soft and subtle dough as traditional “00” flour without the imported cost.

Menu Idea: Authentic Margarita Pizza. A classic Neapolitan-style crust made with Ardent Mills Primo Mulino Neapolitan-Style Pizza Flour, topped with San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil.

Simple Stand-Out Ingredients

Transparency in nutrition is a growing trend that resonates with pizza consumers. Simple recipes featuring healthier ingredients are attractive, and the more rustic, the better. The quality of pizza can also be elevated with artisan ingredients.

Menu Idea: Ardent Mills presented a Farm Stand Pizza built with Ultragrain Whole Wheat Flour and Red Quinoa, providing a hearty yet healthy crust with fresh roasted vegetables, goat cheese, pesto and extra virgin olive oil.

Celebration Pies

Seasonality and food holidays offer more ways to create festive eating occasions like “National Donut Day” or “Fall Harvest Fest.” Themed pizzas can capture some of this celebratory spirit and serve well as limited-time offers.

Menu Idea: Mardi Gras Pizza. New Orleans favorites are a big hit in a new format with Cajun chicken, andouille sausage, Creole sauce, mozzarella, onions, peppers and parsley toppings with Ardent Mills Kyrol premium high-gluten crust.

Toppings with Texture

Research shows 80% of consumers wish their local pizzerias would offer more premium, innovative toppings. Consider adding both visual and crave-worthy flavor appeal with unique toppings that create texture. Ardent Mills IQF grains as a gremolata topping allow operators to dial up the “wow factor” by adding meaty texture to a plant-based pizza. Operationally, the IQF format reduces back-of-the house labor and allows for more consistent cook times.

Menu Idea: Mediterranean Pizza. Ardent Mills White Sonora whole grain flour crust topped with an IQF Barley, Quinoa and Spelt gremolata, grilled chicken, roasted peppers, a four-cheese blend, fresh arugula, cracked black pepper and shaved Parmesan.

Mini Mania

As the snacking category continues to expand, consumers are looking for bite-sized options to satisfy snack cravings. Operators can leverage in-house ingredients to deliver on this demand by using existing pizza dough to create pizza bites, a fun appetizer or a bar menu addition.

Menu idea: Savory Garlic Parmesan or indulgent Cinnamon Sugar pizza bites both made with Ardent Mills Classic Pizza Mix are sure to be crowd-pleasers.