There we were, in perhaps the most isolated big city in the world. Perth Australia. Five time zones of ocean to the West and three time zones of outback to the East. Great weather. Great surf. Great people. But something was wrong with this part of the pizza world. I was about to discover that something was missing……
Standing before me was a familiar looking Domino's Pizza store. I was about to have my first Australian Pizza Experience. I was also about to discover the first big difference between the US and Australian pizza markets.
Did you know that you can't buy a Domino's Pizza in Australia? Yes. You can buy a pizza that comes out of a Domino's Pizza box, but it not the handmade hand tossed signature that Domino's built it's reputation on here in the states.
The Pan Pizza is king here. That is the standard. The top four chain's top selling pizza is the Pan. Hand tossed pizzas are not popular. Even Domino's does not sell hand tossed.
Another big difference in pizza is the way they are sold. Not by the topping but by the taste concept. The Hawaiian Pizza is the most popular pizza here. It tops the chart at Eagle Boys and can be found on the top slot at Pizza Hut Menu's everywhere. You won't find 1 topping pizza sales. Instead you'll choose from the Meteor Pizza or Chicken and Bacon lovers pizza. Hawaiian Pizza's account for 15% of all pizza's sold and chicken can be found on 15% of all pizza's.
According to Tom Potter, President of Eagle Boys Pizza, Australia's second largest domestic pizza chain, "Australians have a blander taste in food than do Americans." And those Australian taste preferences are the reason Eagle Boys have done so well. That's why our sauce is a little less tangy. And there are more toppings typically on our pizzas. People eat pizza differently here. For example, in Neighboring New Zealand where Eagle Boys has 20 pizza stores. Half of all pizza orders are sold with fries included."
In 1994 Australians spent $825 per capital Australian dollars on restaurant supplied food compared to $1150 spent in the U.S. But Australians are catching up fast.
Australian Pizza Competition has been brutal over the last decade.
11 years ago, Pizza Hut was able to sell 2 large "Take Away" Pizza's (Carryout) for $21.90. Despite an Aussie inflation rate of 5% today Pizza Hut sells that same Take Away combination for only $13.90.
The history of pizza is Australia is much younger than in The States. Here is where pizza had a chance to re-invent itself, consequently, the pizza landscape is much different here. Different pizza types, different pricing strategies, different favorite toppings, and yet pizza was brought here primarily by American companies. So why the difference?
Could it be that since Australians didn't know enough about pizza that they were free to be more experimental? For example, Australian consumers didn't know that they were not suppose to buy dessert with pizza. Or that they were not suppose to like chicken or eggs on their pizza. On the other hand the first pizza operators may not have known that they weren't supposed to offer these items to their customers. So it makes a pizza guy wonders if you didn't know any better? What if you were the first pizza operator in your area to offer something new?