LAS VEGAS — In the realm of foodservice, no market may have performed better through the pandemic than pizza, given its portability, customizability and ease of delivery. According to The NPD Group, Q2 2021 closed with 1.2 billion servings of pizza ordered, a 4% increase over the same quarter last year.

But pizza is not the only foodservice sector seeing growth following the lockdowns in 2020. Quick-serve restaurant (QSR) operators have enjoyed a steady comeback for many of the same reasons. QSR sales reached pre-pandemic levels around the March-April mark this year, according to Market Watch, and Research and Markets projected the global QSR market to experience a 5.1% CAGR by 2026.

Looking at the combined trends reveals a host of opportunities for baking companies such as Northbrook, IL-based Highland Baking, a first-time exhibitor at Pizza Expo 2021, which took place Aug. 17-19 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

From small, regional or independent operators to larger chains, many QSR pizza establishments also serve sandwiches. For many of them, the need is growing to keep the items on the menu.


“We’re coming out of COVID even stronger than we were going into it,” said Tracy Faloon, director of national accounts for Highland Baking Co.


“We have opportunities with sandwiches and subs at different pizza outlets across the country,” said Kameron Bratt, national sales director for Highland Baking.

Although some of Highland’s customers with more full-service models struggled during pandemic-related shutdowns, other QSR customers did well in the past 18 months.  As foodservice makes its overall comeback, Highland continues to serve all its customers while engaging in those new opportunities in the pizza space.

Bratt noted that conversations with smaller and independent pizza operators revealed that many are struggling to get bread orders filled for various reasons including the overall supply chain disruption.

“Some operators are looking for a specific kind of bread, and if we don’t make it, they say, ‘We’ll take what you have,’” observed Tracy Faloon, director of national accounts for Highland Baking. “Many of them are willing to take a bread that’s not their spec, just to keep their items on the menu.”

The ability to take on new product requests and work with potential customers in markets like pizza stems from the bakery’s long-term strategic planning in those slower months during the pandemic.

“Our company took the time to invest, even when our volume wasn’t what it normally was, and took time to move into new projects, so when the onslaught of business opened up in the spring, we were ready,” Faloon said.  “We’re coming out of COVID even stronger than we were going into it.”

Additionally, Highland Baking was able to keep its workforce engaged throughout the ups and downs of COVID, further preparing the bakery to take on new business opportunities with potential customers like pizza outlets.

Highland’s product portfolio and commercial capabilities can be found here.