Monday, May 21, 2018

Complexity Free Food is Food Authenticity

Restaurants at times elevate complexity in menu items to create differentiation.  That however was back in the day today complexity free food is more than just transparency in food according to Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson.

Grocerant niche ‘Better-for-you’ fresh prepared food that is portable and portioned for one or two continues to drive demand in every sector of retail foodservice. Consumers today are seeking ‘better-for-you’ fresh prepared food as meal components that can be bundled in to a customized family meal according to Johnson. Does your team have the wrong definition for Grocerant? Do you understand the Grocerant niche?

Grocery stores of a bygone era thought they could responded to consumers demand to drive sales simply by opening more stores, larger stores, or ‘scale’ a fresh food department that looked like 1980’s rather than today. 
That did work when most food choice came from a can, a jar, or a box that could sit on a shelf for years and slotting fees paid for the shelf space. Simply put was a mindset of yesterday’s food retailers the ilk of A&P and others still taking slotting fees.

Johnson continued “retailers back in the day felt that all they need was more scale to compete successfully with other grocery stores. Today consumers demand fresh grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat prepared food can be found at companies the ilk of Wegmans, Green Zebra Grocery, New Season Market, Wawa, Sheetz, KFC, McDonald’s, and Papa Murphy’s.

Complexity free in the minds-eye of the consumer according to the team at Tacoma, WA based means, less meal preparation time, little or no cooking, less food waste, less time shopping, less packaging, local, fresh fast food, in-season food, and portions for one or two. In fact one of the key findings was no matter the size of the household fresh was best and the ability to mix and match meal components was crucial.  Does your company look more like yesterday or tomorrow?
Foodservice Solutions® team is here to help you drive top line sales and bottom line profits. Are you looking a customer ahead? Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may the clue you need to propel your continued success.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Who Wins Millennials vs Restaurants, Grocerants, Grocery Stores

Millennial's relentless quest for fresh food discovery has created brand migration, new food sector trial, and migration from well-established ‘path-to-purchase’ paths not so well worn according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. 
Eating-In while Eating-Out is more common with Millennials than any other cohort. FMI’s Power of Foodservice at Retail looks at trends in retail foodservice and details how millennial shoppers look at meals they prepare at home, eat in restaurants, take out and have delivered to them. Here are some top findings that can help inform your foodservice at retail strategy:
·         Millennials (ages 19 to 37) average fewer weekly dinners that require some level of preparation. But that doesn’t mean they care any less about nutrition or variety than those who prepare more of their own meals.
·         To a greater extent than other shoppers, older millennials (ages 28 to 37) are interested in nutrition information. Older millennials value good nutrition when it comes to making meal selections that they don’t prepare themselves. The nutrition of the item almost as important as speed of service. They expect the retailer to tell them how fresh a product’s ingredients are and to provide them with information about any artificial ingredients that are used as well.
·         Older millennials also want to know about your food safety measures and detailed calorie information. They want healthier alternatives when selecting meals from a retailer’s foodservice department, things like low-calorie salad dressings and turkey meatloaf. In addition, this group also wants more organic options.
·         While younger millennials (those 18 to 27) are also interested in nutrition, they are even more interested in variety and the ability to select from a number of different cuisines. Younger millennials expect you to give them a better drink selection in foodservice, and that includes a good selection of different beers and wines. Among the options they would like to see are more vegetarian choices and chef-inspired meals. They demand more than just chicken when it comes to your deli meat selection and they like to see menus change with the seasons.
·         Millennials of all ages want to experiment more with the world’s cuisines. Their favorites include Mexican, Mediterranean, Japanese/sushi, Thai and Vietnamese.
Does your brand look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Grocerant niche is a platform that invites discovery.  Is it time to call the experts?  Success does leave clues. 
Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant Program Assessment, Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Pilot Flying J Fresh Food Fast

Fresh food fast dominates within the restaurant sector with 80.7 % of all restaurant sector visits occurring at fast food restaurants. It’s no wonder that all foodservice retailers are expanding fresh food fast formats with increasing success according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.
Fresh food fast and flavorful is top of mind at Pilot Flying J as they continue to expand Pilot Express units with a heavy emphasis on food and service.  Conceptualization of Pilot Express began at the end of 2016, with "earnest developments" rolling out at the start of 2017 as regular readers of this blog know as we excel within this space. 
The smaller-format concept particularly spotlights Pilot Flying J's commitment to food and beverage innovation, in line with the company's Facility Enhancement Plan (FEP). Introduced at the start of 2017, the FEP is the travel center operator's $500-million, five-year commitment to reimage existing locations through total facility image, menu and retail environment enhancements, and the addition of new services.
Pilot Flying J Chief Merchant Brian Ferguson explained  "Our Pilot Express locations have a smaller footprint compared to our traditional travel centers, just compressed to focus on food and beverage because that’s what our guests want, what they need and what they’re asking for,"
Built around the retailer's PJ Fresh Marketplace program, Pilot Express stores offer homestyle meals, grab-and-go and made-to-order sandwiches and salads, premium beverages, a "bean-to-cup, make-it-your-way, you-are-your-own-barista" coffee experience, and weekly limited-time offers. I bet that sounds familiar to many of you and you think about Foodservice Solutions® FIVE P’s of Food Marketing.
Ferguson continued, additional Pilot Express locations will open in 2018 and continue to play a strategic role in the success of its FEP, which is now in phase two. Pilot Flying J is targeting 50 locations this year for reimaging. Projects were completed at 50 locations in 2017 as part of phase one.
Furguson added "Our mission is deliver care and a smile at every stop, so when drivers are making the decision to get off the interstate to stop at a Pilot, Flying J or Pilot Express, we want guests to say, 'Pilot Flying J has tremendous service hospitality, amazing food,”
Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? Email us at: or visit: for more information.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Win Free Breakfast for a Year Just Listen to McDonald’s New Jingle

There is no food retailer today better than McDonald’s at consumer focused interactive and participatory brand marketing according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®
McDonald’s is celebrating the iconic Egg McMuffin on the menu for 45 years with a breakfast jingle and giving one lucky fan free breakfast for a year. The new breakfast jingle, created in partnership with Roger Greenaway, the Songwriters Hall of Fame member behind the “Buy the World a Coke” jingle and highlights how the company is building a better McDonald’s by giving our customers freshly prepared breakfast sandwiches, like the Egg McMuffin.
This is a fun way to kick start the day, pulled inspiration from the mouthwatering sounds of McDonald’s breakfast, such as:
·         Grade A, freshly cracked eggs
·         Extra-lean Canadian bacon, sizzling on the grill
·         McCafĂ© premium drip coffee, made from 100 percent Arabica beans
·         The soft scrape of real butter spread on toasted English muffins, biscuits and bagels
Breakfast enthusiasts everywhere can sing along to the new jingle on McDonald’s social channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Customers also have the chance to win free breakfast for a year and a limited-edition vinyl by commenting their favorite menu item and @-tagging a friend on the video.
Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? Email us at: or visit: for more information.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Five Success Clues for 2018 Grocerant Growth

Five undercurrents of growth are driving the continued expansion of grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food marketplace in 2018 according to Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson. According to Johnson to win in 2018 food retailers need a new Electricity integrated strategy.

Foodservice Solutions® field team headed by our own Grocerant Guru® has conducted in excess of 8,375 Grocerant ScoreCards. Non-client specific information garnered from those Grocerant ScoreCards during 2017 was the source for our findings. The five undercurrents driving grocerant growth are:

  1. Increase in competition for share of stomach: Companies the ilk of McDonald’s  EveryTable, New Seasons Market, Eat Fit Go, Munchery, Hello Fresh, and Plated.
  2. Expanded Mix and Match Meal Bundling : Restaurants the ilk of  Essen Slow Food Fast, Freshii, Moaz, Native Foods CafĂ©, Veggie Grill, Safeway, Publix, Rutter’s Farm Stores, Sheetz, and Wawa.
  3. Customization and or Personalization of menu items drive’s Gen Z and Millennial adoption. Without doubt retailers that edify there retail food brand are creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization and customer adoption.
  4. Small plates, Bold flavors, and Catering / Portability: Takeaways, and ToGo menu items sold in a restaurant, c-store, drug store, club store, furniture store, or grocery stores via a drive-thru, online, mobile, featuring authentic ethnic flavors regardless of the type of retail outlet for quick pick-up or delivery continue to drive adoption.
  5. Price : maybe Aldi said it best “Poor people must save, rich people like too”
Simply put Grocerant ScoreCards provide real-time customer relevance in our data dependent intelligence age according to our own Grocerant Guru®. Do you understand the undercurrents of change driving foodservice growth in 2018?  Do you understand the importance of integrating consumer relevance into your brand messaging? What’s your new electricity for 2018?

For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact:  the Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. Visit: for more information

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Noodles & Company Vegan Zucchini Noodles take Center Stage

Millennials continue opting for an increased frequency of vegan menu items according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. Noodles & Company, known for serving classic noodle and pasta dishes inspired by flavors from around the world has a new menu item for those looking for vegan meals with the launch of zucchini noodles. Does Noodles hopes vegan will be its new electricity?
Made from fresh zucchinis spiralized in-house daily, the delicious low-calorie and low-carb zoodles will debut in two worldly dishes—the all-new Zucchini Romesco and the fan-favorite Zucchini Thai Green Curry with Shrimp. Noodles is the first national fast-casual chain to offer zoodles coast-to-coast.
Menu innovation the ilk of zoodles can create incremental brand relevance and can create a platform for new electricity according to Johnson. For a successful platform innovation in new food products requires new avenues of distribution for the new electricity to truly drive incremental sales, according to Johnson; partnerships specifically strategic partnerships are driving retail success today. 
Johnson stated that in my minds-eye the new electricity must be very efficient for the supply and includes such things as fresh foods, grocerant consultants, urban farming (produce, seafood, etc.), autonomous delivery, cashier-less retail, cash-less payments, digital hand held marketing.
Retailers the ilk of Noodles & Company and  to survive the next generation of retail must embrace the artificial intelligence revolution in menu development, deployment, and distribution while simultaneously embracing fresh food that is portable, fresh, with differentiation that is familiar not different
The two new featured zoodle dishes include:
Zucchini Romesco: This new dish has a sweet and tangy chunky roasted red pepper sauce—reminiscent of a Spanish pesto—made with almonds, sundried tomatoes and garden vegetables.
Zucchini Thai Green Curry with Shrimp: A new take on a Noodles staple, this dish pairs a sweet coconut green curry sauce with pineapple, broccoli, red onion, snap peas, lime, black sesame seeds and cilantro.
Chas Hermann, chief brand officer at Noodles & Company stated "Our new zucchini noodles are sure to please with bold flavor and fresh, quality ingredients." To encourage guests to give zucchini noodles a try, Noodles is offering a taste guarantee. Any guest who orders a bowl of zucchini noodles and doesn't feel the zoodle love can get a replacement traditional noodle dish at no additional cost. 
Zucchini noodles are a great choice for noodle lovers looking for a lighter option. A regular portion of zucchini noodles has 90 percent fewer calories and carbs than a regular portion of elbow noodles, and all the flavor and taste guests have come to expect from Noodles. Plus, zoodles are packed with vitamin C and potassium and are gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian.
Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Interested in learning how can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit: for more information.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Virtual Grocerants & Restaurants are the undercurrent of industry restaurant sector Disruption

Once again the restaurant sector is facing challenges from outside the restaurant sector and inside the sector just as pizza store fronts (delivery only) branded outlets displaced many Italian restaurants, they also replaced themselves companies the ilk of Pizza Hut once had over 2,000 ‘red roof’ full-service restaurants.  According to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.
All regular readers of this blog have driven by a virtual restaurant, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Papa John’s and most of you have virtual restaurant meals delivered right to your door from companies the ilk of Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Plated sure you have to prepare them at home but time and time again Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant ScoreCards indicate consumers consider them first to be ‘restaurant quality or better’ and second ‘a restaurant meal replacement’ and third ‘special occasion dinning’. Now for the undercurrents of disruption:
1.       HelloFresh said it more than doubled its number of active customers, meals delivered and orders in the U.S. in 2017. The number of active customers increased 105.7%, to 890,000; the number of orders rose 118.6%, to 3 million; and the number of meals delivered increased 114.4%, to 20.7 million.
2.       Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the National Restaurant Association's research and knowledge group stated “There were 189.8 restaurants for every 100,000 Americans in 2016. In 2001, that number was 165.1”.
3.       According to the Nielsen report, in-store meal kits generated $154.6 million in sales in 2017, an increase of more than 26% over year-ago results.
4.       Hudson Riehle believes ‘Booze delivery is inevitable’ and this is why: “Half of all 21- to 34-year-olds would use it,” he said. “What the consumer wants comes to fruition.”
5.       The market for meal kits is not very saturated as companies the ilk of UberEATS, DoorDash and Postmates continue to delivery from new non-traditional fresh meal delivery companies like Whole Foods, IKEA, McDonald’s, Chipotle, Taco Bell, etc.
Just as the lines between retail sectors have grown thinner so have storefronts.  Today a storefront and can include your neighbor’s kitchen, Pop-Up shipping-container-size kitchens, grocery stores, convenience stores, dollar stores, and restaurants the ilk of Red Robin, Carrabba’s Italian Grill.
In a world where meal component assembly has become the new form of meal preparation with 83.7% of family meals having at least one fresh prepared meal component, the facts are clear cooking from scratch is a bygone era.  Our question today is does your food retail outlet look more like yesterday or tomorrow?
Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? Email us at: or visit: for more information.
Foodservice Solutions® Steven Johnson identified, quantified, qualified, and named the Grocerant Niche.  Our teams global efforts have been noted around the world.  We now know what’s happening in this niche next do you?  Are you prepared for success?