Panera Bread is including flatbread pizza to its menu, diving right into a aggressive area as pizza sellers from eating places to frozen manufacturers have seen gross sales soar in the course of the pandemic.

Panera’s flatbread pizza is a method for the chain, which already sells loads of bread and has cheese and different toppings in its different menu objects, to make use of on-hand components another way. 

Pizza can also be a neater dish than others for carryout and supply, which have taken on new prominence as folks spend extra time at dwelling. Chains together with Domino’s have been posting report gross sales. On the similar time, frozen pizzas, together with these with some better-for-you traits, have been sizzling sellers.

Panera tried to promote a pizza-like product greater than a decade in the past, however struggled with the prep time it required and pace of service, says Sara Burnett, VP of wellness, meals coverage and public affairs, So, why does Panera assume that it might play a task within the pizza class? 

“Our visitors have been asking us to launch into that class, into pizzas, for fairly a while now,” says Panera Bread Chief Model & Idea Officer Eduardo Luz. 

Panera noticed very promising curiosity and outcomes from a flatbread pizza check in 2019 into 2020, Luz says. Then, the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the restaurant trade, resulting in the rise of extra supply and carryout, in addition to a drop in lunchtime orders throughout chains together with Panera as a result of workplace staff have been staying dwelling.

The sudden spark in “off-premise” eating made it a extra compelling time to launch pizzas, says Luz. At Panera, which doesn’t disclose whole gross sales, supply is rising at a triple-digit clip, whereas fast pickup and drive-thru orders are up double digits, says Luz. 

“Propelled by off-premise, we’re seeing sequential enchancment each week on our enterprise,” he says. 

As individuals are at dwelling, extra orders are shifting later within the day.

“We consider that flatbread pizza is a good resolution,” says Luz, who contends Panera’s lineup is differentiated from different pizzas within the U.S. He says Panera’s use of “00” flour completed with olive oil, fontina cheese and grape tomatoes makes it extra just like the pies present in Italy.

Luz—who joined Panera in Might—says that quite than specializing in rivals together with long-established pizza chains or pizzas bought in grocery shops, Panera is centered on profitable over diners, together with those that would possibly add a flatbread pizza to an current order. The chain’s advertising comes from Goodby, Silverstein & Companions.