Pizza is big business. According to one study, 83% of consumers eat pizza at least once a month. Overall, we spend an estimated $141 billion on pizza every year. Those sales are growing at a low- to mid-single-digit annual rate, with faster consumption coming from global markets, especially in the carryout and delivery segments.

That growth could make pizza stocks a tasty investment opportunity. Here's a closer look at how to invest in the industry.

A sliced pizza on a wooden table.
Image source: Getty Images.

Top pizza stocks in 2024

The global pizza industry is a vast and fragmented market. Because of that, there are only a few publicly traded pizza-focused restaurant stocks large enough for investors to consider:

Data source: YCharts. Market capitalization as of January 24, 2023.
Pizza Stock Ticker Symbol Market Capitalization Company Description
Domino's Pizza (NYSE:DPZ) $11.9 billion The largest pizza company in the world.
Papa John's (NASDAQ:PZZA) $2.9 billion The third-largest pizza delivery company in the world.
Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) $35.7 billion A fast-food company that operates several brands, including Pizza Hut.

Here's a closer look at these dominant pizza giants:

1. Domino's Pizza

Domino's is the world's largest pizza company based on global retail sales. The company rang up $17.8 billion in total global retail sales in 2021. That gave it a 22% slice of the worldwide quick-service restaurant (QSR) pizza market.

The company had 19,500 stores in 2022 and now has locations in more than 90 global markets. Slightly more than half of its sales come from international markets. Domino's gets 43% of its sales from carryout transactions and 57% from its food delivery business.

Despite being the global leader, Domino's isn't satisfied. Its goal is to become the No. 1 pizza company in the world. It aims to achieve that target by gobbling up a larger piece of the fragmented global pizza market.

The pizza purveyor sees lots of room to expand. Domino's controlled 22% of the total U.S. QSR pizza market in mid-2022 and aims to increase its U.S. store count from more than 6,600 in 2022 to as many as 8,000 in the future. Meanwhile, it sees the potential for more than 10,000 incremental stores in its top international markets alone. That growing share of an expanding market makes Domino's Pizza stock look like an appetizing option for investors.

2. Papa John's

Papa John's is the world's third-largest pizza delivery company. It had more than 5,500 restaurants in 49 countries as of mid-2021, with about 3,350 locations in North America. The company generated $2.1 billion in sales during 2021.  

Papa John's also has a bold goal: It aims to become the world's best pizza delivery company. That's leading it to continue expanding its global footprint.

Papa John's unveiled a historic development deal in 2022. It's partnering with one of Asia's leading private equity firms to open more than 1,350 new stores across South China by 2040. That will give it a larger share of one of the fastest-growing pizza markets in the world.

3. Yum! Brands

Yum! Brands is a global QSR leader. It had more than 53,000 restaurants in 155 countries in late 2022. Its restaurant brands include KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, which are global leaders in the chicken, pizza, and Mexican-style food categories, respectively.

Pizza Hut has more than 18,500 restaurants. The brand generates about 43% of its sales in the U.S., with the rest coming from global markets. It has a heavy presence in China, at 16% of its sales. Yum! is rapidly expanding its Pizza Hut brand, opening 287 new restaurants in 43 countries during the second quarter of 2022 alone as it continues to increase its global pizza empire.

Even though you can't directly buy Pizza Hut stock, Yum! Brands offers investors the opportunity to participate in the global growth of the overall QSR industry.

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Should you invest in pizza stocks?

Many food and beverage companies remain privately held, but pizza lovers have a few appealing options if they want to invest in the industry's growth.

Domino's is the dominant global brand, while Papa John's is increasing its global reach. Yum! offers the opportunity to invest in pizza along with other food concepts. All three pizza providers appear poised to continue expanding in the future, which positions their shareholders to reap some potentially satisfying total returns.

Matthew DiLallo has positions in Domino's Pizza. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Domino's Pizza. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.