Dr Oetker will not press on with the next stage of its US launch of Ristorante pizza until next year, the Germany-based food group has told just-food.

The company has already test-launched Ristorante in the north-east of the US and is selling five lines to 15 wholesalers in the country.

The launch is an ambitious move from Oetker and the company said it would take its time before deciding whether to roll out Ristorante into other US states.

“The next stage of our test in the US market will not happen until next year. We usually are very careful in our test markets, and there is no need for speed yet,” a Dr Oetker spokesman told juts-food yesterday (31 March).

“The reason to start a test in the US is that the US market is as big as the European market, so we see that as an enormous chance for a successful business. Pizza is a well known product there and, especially in the north-east, our thin and crispy type of pizza should match the taste of the American consumers.”

Yesterday, Dr Oetker booked a 6.6% rise in annual revenues for 2008 thanks to bumper international sales. Dr Oetker’s sales outside Germany jumped 11.9% and exceeded the EUR1bn (US$1.32bn) mark for the first time, the company said.

Overseas markets accounted for 62% of Dr Oetker’s revenues in 2008, driving group revenues to EUR1.69bn.

However, Dr Oetker issued a more cautionary note on the company’s performance early this year. The group warned that turnover during the first two months of 2009 was below expectations.

The spokesman said Dr Oetker’s figures for the first two months of 2008 were boosted by last year’s early Easter and wholesalers’ moves to build their stocks of the company’s lines ahead of a price increase last March.

“Dr Oetker expects the year 2009 to be quite tough but nevertheless we think we will have an acceptable year concerning sales and profit,” the spokesman said.