KANSAS CITY — From a market research perspective, “it’s all about the crust” when it comes to consumer preferences, according to Mintel’s 2022 report on the US pizza category.

“While a substantial portion of retail pizza consumers express interest in premium toppings and unique varieties, those concepts are likely to fall flat if the crust isn’t right,” the study concluded.

That’s a perspective shared by Maddie Essman, senior marketing manager for Schwan’s Consumer Brands Inc.

“Crust type leads the decision-making process for consumers when shopping their local frozen pizza aisles,” she told Baking & Snack for its August pizza trends report.

The Bloomington, Minn.-based company is in the process of launching Red Baron Fully Loaded Hand Tossed Style Crust Pizza, an extension of its Fully Loaded Original Crust Pizza launched in 2021. That’s a smart move with all of the wood-fire ovens cranking out pizzas across the nation.

“We noticed there are a significant number of consumers who seek out hand-tossed pizza within the restaurant pizza industry,” Ms. Essman explained. “It is the No. 1 selling type of crust in pizzerias and quick-serve restaurants across the United States. However, the crust style accounted for less than 1% of frozen pizzas in the market.”

She added that the hand-tossed style pizza crust is soft and chewy but crisp enough so there is no “flop” when holding a slice. It’s designed to be an indulgent, restaurant-style experience that provides consumers with a distinct option from the brand’s original pizza crust. In the pizza category, the battles are fought with toppings while the war is won with the crust.