How Three Chains Make and Market Plant-Based mostly Pizzas

  • Plant-based proteins are much less an of-the-moment pattern and extra a long-term shift in Individuals’ consuming habits, together with pizza lovers.
  • The proprietor of Caliente Pizza & Draft Home, for instance, determined he might appeal to Pittsburgh’s many vegans by crafting menu objects only for them.

Associated: Get all the newest information on vegan pizza merchandise at PMQ’s sister website,

By Tracy Morin

Plant-based gross sales are positively blooming, and by now, they’re much less an of-the-moment pattern and extra a long-term shift in Individuals’ consuming habits. For those who’re considering of including some plant-based proteins to the menu, take notes from these three manufacturers which have integrated them in considerate methods—and reaped hordes of latest prospects within the course of.


Pizza My Coronary heart

With 25 places within the San Francisco Bay Space, Pizza My Coronary heart jumped on including plant-based toppings like Miyoko’s Creamery vegan mozz, Discipline Roast Plant-Based mostly Pepperoni, and Past Meat Scorching Italian Sausage.

Advertising and marketing messages: Pizza My Coronary heart donated 25% of web proceeds from all Miyoko’s-topped pies throughout one week to the Humane Society Silicon Valley and SPCA Santa Cruz. It additionally supplied, for almost one month, $5 off a big, $4 off a medium, or $3 off a small Vegan Sur pizza (that includes plant-based pepperoni), or any build-your-own pizza topped with the pepperoni. “We branded our line of vegan pizzas as PB Pizza and created some devoted specialty pies,” provides Chuck Hammers, proprietor and president. “We’ve achieved plenty of sampling and low cost occasions, and we point out our vegan choices continuously in our customary communications, together with social media, e-mail blasts and in-store merchandising.”

Meat matchmaking: Each Hammers and government chef Spencer Glenn agree that taste is the primary consideration when selecting a plant-based protein. “There’s been a lot progress in the previous few years with vegan merchandise,” Hammers notes. “We discovered nice merchandise that matched our targets for taste and being straightforward to work with. Our eating places are busy, so we couldn’t have merchandise that had particular cooking necessities or slowed service down.”

“There’s been a lot progress in the previous few years with vegan merchandise. We discovered nice merchandise that matched our targets for taste and being straightforward to work with.”
— Chuck Hammers, Pizza My Coronary heart

Pizza pairing: “We go daring with our vegan pizza choices,” Glenn says. “Roasted garlic, spicy peppers, freshly sliced mushrooms and spice blends are substances that work nice on vegan pizzas—most likely as a result of in addition they style nice on any pizza!”

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Buyer response: Vegan toppings aren’t only for vegans anymore. “A a lot larger viewers is the individuals trying so as to add extra plant-based choices into their eating regimen and blend issues up,” Glenn notes. “We’re additionally seeing a considerable variety of hybrid orders: vegetarians who’re proud of dairy cheese however add a plant-based pepperoni, or lactose-intolerant prospects who need the vegan cheese however nonetheless order conventional sausage, pepperoni or rooster.”

Pricing and income: Vegan substances are priced the identical as conventional ones, although they price extra. “The gratitude from prospects is definitely worth the minor incremental price—and we’ve additionally seen that almost all of our enterprise for vegan merchandise is incremental,” Hammers says. “Prospects who beforehand wouldn’t have come to our eating places now have change into regulars. That’s a win for everybody.”

Phrases of knowledge: “Don’t simply add a vegan cheese or topping to your menu and anticipate it to work,” Glenn advises. “Create some devoted pizzas with attention-grabbing taste profiles. There generally is a mistaken impression that vegan means boring and flavorless. That’s now not true, and we now have a rising buyer base who respect that. We not too long ago entered our Mt. Diablo vegan pizza into a serious pizza competitors in opposition to conventional meat and dairy pizzas, and it did exceptionally properly. Once you make a pizza that tastes nice, individuals will discover.”

Associated: Plant-based proteins are going mainstream on pizza menus


Sarpino’s USA

Sarpino’s, with almost 50 items unfold throughout the Midwest, launched its full vegan menu in Could 2020 and now affords a spread of plant-based additions (pepperoni, sausage, cheese and rooster), used for 13 specialty pizzas, 4 calzones, tacky breads, pastas, sandwiches and rooster tenders, plus 4 new deep-dish pizzas.

Advertising and marketing messages: Sarpino’s dietary supplements vegans’ and vegetarians’ word-of-mouth marketing via email, SMS and web search campaigns, plus social media posts and third-party platforms. “We labored with our companions to do a ‘Pepperoni Problem Pizza’ at first of the 12 months, making a pizza that was half plant-based pepperoni and half common at a reduced worth to let our prospects strive it,” says David Chatkin, president. “The response was very optimistic, with the pizza being within the prime 10 offered in the course of the promotion, and we noticed a sustained improve in plant-based pepperoni topping add-ons from the common menu.”

Meat matchmaking: Spurred on by a vegan buyer’s request in 2019, the model began to discover vegan and flexitarian meals developments and introduced Past Meat and Daiya cheese on board. “We noticed how briskly that market was rising and what an amazing alternative this was, so we determined to create a completely vegan menu—not simply small additions—to have the identical huge selection as we do with our common menu,” Chatkin recollects. “We examined a spread of plant-based proteins and went with merchandise that have been high-quality, complemented our taste profiles, and, most significantly, that our vegan prospects would love.”

“We labored with our companions to do a ‘Pepperoni Problem Pizza’…making a pizza that was half plant-based pepperoni and half common at a reduced worth to let our prospects strive it.”
— David Chatkin, Sarpino’s USA

Pizza pairing: Earlier than including plant-based merchandise, the Sarpino’s workforce spent months creating processes for streamlining cooking and preparation. “With our hyper-efficient operations design, we now have a smaller employees than most, and we couldn’t overburden franchisees,” explains Scott Nelowet, director of franchise growth. “We spent a whole lot of time experimenting, as a result of vegan achieved poorly will harm not simply vegan gross sales but additionally the complementary gross sales that come together with them.”

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Buyer response: Vegan and vegetarian prospects, bored with the afterthought choices of others, respect the model’s dedication to plant-based delicacies and produce their family and friends, who might or is probably not vegan—serving to to safe the model’s latest $150,000 enhance in common retailer gross sales. “The client response has been overwhelmingly optimistic, and it has change into a really loyal fan base,” Nelowet notes.

Pricing and income: Plant-based proteins are barely costlier than conventional proteins, however the model engaged in months of refinement to make sure it might supply plant-based at a big revenue. The corporate now recommends that franchisees don’t cost greater than $1 or $2 additional for the vegan objects or elevate the topping cost for plant-based proteins on the common menu.

Phrases of knowledge: “Hearken to what the vegan neighborhood is asking for! For those who strategy this in a disingenuous means, they may comprehend it, and you’ll by no means get better,” Chatkin advises. “They know when eating places don’t actually care and are simply in it for the cash. As a substitute, take the time to create recipes and choices particularly for this viewers. And, as all the time, totally prepare your employees on the brand new objects, together with easy methods to deal with objects correctly.”


Caliente Pizza & Draft Home

Caliente Pizza & Draft Home, a Pittsburgh-based impartial, now with seven places, discovered success after including vegan cheese in late 2020 and adopted that success with plant-based pepperoni in early 2022.

Advertising and marketing messages: Rubbing elbows with a Pittsburgh-area vegan group has helped unfold the phrase organically, serving to promote new menu objects as quickly as they’re launched. “They’ve a Fb web page with hundreds of followers,” marvels Nick Bogacz, president. “They’ve been our greatest supply of promoting, and we’ve now change into a vacation spot for these choices.”

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Meat matchmaking: At a commerce present in London in 2019, Bogacz famous the plethora of plant-based substances—and the way nice they tasted. Again house, he believed he might appeal to the sizable vegan presence in Pittsburgh with objects made only for them. Including vegan cheese went over “phenomenally,” so when Hormel despatched over samples of its Glad Little Vegetation pepperoni, the taste-testing started. “On employees, we now have a few vegans, so that they tried it—and the meat eaters did, too,” Bogacz remembers. “Everybody was shocked by the feel, style and look. That’s what actually stood out to me after we tried plant-based proteins: that they have been truly actually good!”

Pizza pairing: The Velma specialty pie is easy, that includes purple sauce, basil, vegan pepperoni and vegan cheese. However Bogacz is contemplating including extra choices to the menu, similar to plant-based sausage and an Italian-style sub, achieved vegan, with the plant-based pepperoni. “The substances work identical to the meat-based ones,” he says. “I feel it’s a pattern that’ll simply continue to grow.”

“What you typically discover is that the client’s associate is vegan, and as a substitute of ordering two separate pizzas, the nonvegan will strive the plant-based pepperoni.”
— Nick Bogacz, Caliente Pizza & Draft Home

Buyer response: Hybrid households love the choices at Caliente. “What you typically discover is that the client’s associate is vegan, and as a substitute of ordering two separate pizzas, the nonvegan will strive the plant-based pepperoni,” Bogacz says. “We ensure that to place the plant-based pepperoni on the other finish of the make line, so the 2 pepperonis don’t get confused.” Vegan and vegetarian prospects respect this additional care.

Pricing and income: Caliente prices a premium-topping worth for the plant-based meat, however prospects are greater than keen to shell out for it, so long as the standard is as much as snuff.

Phrases of knowledge: “Undoubtedly taste-test the plant-based proteins and have somebody who’s vegan as a part of the taste-testing crew,” Bogacz recommends. “Additionally, cook dinner it! You need to see what it seems like contemporary and after it’s been sitting in a pizza field for 10 minutes.”  

Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor and the editor of