Nearly two thirds of UK consumers eat pizza at least once a month and a quarter dine on pizza weekly, according to research by US consultancy firm Technomic.

The figures, which come courtesy of Technomic’s Status & Outlook of the UK Pizza Category and Its Customers study released this month in co-operation with the Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food Association, found that found younger consumers drive pizza consumption and away-from-home pizza purchases.

Nearly two thirds (65%) of consumers ages 18 to 34, versus just over half (52%) of those aged 35 and older, order pizza for eat-in at a restaurant at least monthly.

Retail pizza purchases beat dine-in orders among all consumers: two thirds (66%) of UK consumers across all age groups buy chilled or frozen pizza at retail at least monthly.

Technomic’s vice-president Darren Tristano said: “Pizza’s strong popularity at retail outlets suggests an opportunity for restaurant operators. Offering branded pizzas at supermarkets and other retail outlets can help restaurants build their name recognition beyond the reach of the areas served by their bricks-and-mortar locations; it can also boost their positioning among loyal customers as a convenient, anytime meal option. Indeed, 43% of UK consumers said they would like their favourite restaurant brand to offer chilled pizza at retail, and 35% say the same for frozen pizza.”

More than half (49% of men and 62% of women) said they would like more restaurants to offer pizza by the slice; a third would like to see more portable, handheld pizza snack options.

Most consumers (55%) said they prefer to build their own pizzas, and two fifths reported regularly ordering “half-and-half” pizzas that they can share with others. More healthy ingredient choices and ingredients that boasted quality/health halos generated significant interest, too.

Almost half (46%) of consumers said they would like restaurants to offer more-healthful pizza ingredients, and around two fifths said the use of natural or organic (40%) and local (36%) ingredients was important in creating a good pizza.