Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Top 20 US Grocerants for 2014 According to Foodservice Solutions®

Happy Thanksgiving! The United States is a melting pot of food flavors, styles of food service, and one of the most competitive food marketplaces in the world.  The Grocerant niche is driven by multi-generational families, multi-ethnic families, and a cultural convergence of consumer’s exposure to global flavors, active lifestyles, and limited time / skill-set for cooking from scratch.  The Grocerant niche is filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.  This Thanksgiving an our research shows at least one grocerant meal component will be on 84% of US Thanksgiving tables this year. 
Alice May Brock said: “Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian, wine and tarragon make it French, sour cream makes it Russian, lemon and cinnamon make it Greek, soy sauce makes it Chinese, garlic makes it good.”  Our Grocerant Guru™ said “Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat meal components make every meal a happy meal.” Here is our 2014 top 20 Grocerants in the US:

  1. Eatzi’s
  2. Green Zebra Grocery
  3. Whole Foods,
  4. Hello Fresh
  5. Hy-Vee,
  6. Central Market,
  7. Sprouts Farmers Markets
  8. Mariano’s
  9. Wawa
  10. Walgreens / Duane Reade
  11. Plated
  12. Sheetz
  13. Dominos
  14. Costco
  15. McDonalds
  16. Papa Murphy’s
  17. Lunds and Byerly’s
  18. Bristol Farms
  19.  Trader Joe’s,
  20. Zoes Kitchen,

Success does leave clues visit:  if you are interested in learning more about our top 20. Or on 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. Johnson,, or 253-759-7869

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Steven Johnson is The Grocerant Guru™ at Foodservice Solutions®

Since 1991 Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® has been the food industries leading grocerant consultancy.  Steven Johnson is recognized as one of the leading food industry thought leaders of today. Specializing in the Grocerant niche Foodservice Solutions® has introduced, informed, and identified new products and service for both the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat niche. Many times assisting in creating the new avenues of fresh food distribution, simultaneously placing either the product or service into either traditional or non-traditional avenues of distribution. 

Foodservice Solutions®  is working at the intersection of competitive intelligence, business development, while focusing on the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food aka Grocerant niche food.

Differentiation in marketing builds strong brands. Understanding differentiation in market positioning and retail leads to industry leadership. Tired of simply following the leaders or utilizing copy-cat marketing techniques? Are you ready to garner new customers via consumer relevant unique brand and or product positioning?

Foodservice Solutions® can help you break out of the malaise of mediocrity, while building top line revenue, and bottom line profits.  Foodservice Solutions® utilizes new consumer relevant positioning and new points of non-traditional distribution.  So if you find your brand in “footprint malaise, contact Foodservice Solutions® they can help.

Success leaves clues; consumers provide insights into preferred differentiation. Transformational times require focus and experience with a qualitative edge. If you’re looking for that outstanding balance of IQ & EQ which combined with vast industry knowledge and proven success you have found it at Foodservice Solutions®.

Specialties: Developing, Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh and prepared food sales. Integrating the 5 P’s of Food Marketing with branded products and quick meal assembly. Foodservice Solutions® Excels at identifying, qualifying, and quantifying niche opportunity within the retail food space for Ready-2-Eat, Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food, and Technology applications.  (253) 759-7869

For Success Clues Contact Website:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sous-Vide Is In Style Once Again

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ asks can the quality control attributes of Sous-Vide be leveraged by restaurants and C-stores to elevate food quality and consistency?  Are US restaurants ready to utilize Sous-Vide to save on labor or are they already?  

Today, sous-vide allows brands the ability to develop customized flavor profile fresh food that can branded and personalized. In the US Culinary Brands and WR Grace entered fresh prepared Sous-vide products at one time during the late 80’s & early 90’s and both sold their operations due to lack of demand.  With the cost of labor on the rise, health care and increasing obstacle it just may be time for resurgence for Sous-vide.  Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food that can be customized and bundled with meal components continues growing across all retail food sectors. 

In case you were wondering sous-vide (IPA pronunciation: [su: vi:d]), French for "under vacuum", is a method of cooking that is intended to maintain the integrity of ingredients while capturing the full flavor of the food.  Sous-vide cooking uses airtight plastic bags placed in hot water well below boiling point (Usually around 60°C = 140°F) in restaurant settings.

The sous-vide method was developed by Georges Pralus in the mid-1970s for the Restaurant Troisgros (of Pierre and Michel Troigros) in Roanne, France. He discovered that food cooked in this way kept its original appearance, did not lose its nutrients and maintained its natural texture. The method is used here in the US in a number of top-end restaurants under Thomas Keller, Paul Bocuse, Joel Robuchon and Charlie Trotter and other chefs. Non-professional cooks are also beginning to use vacuum cooking.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact Steven Johnson and Foodservice Solutions via or visit  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fresh Food Customers Converging

Today the line between restaurants and food retailers is growing ever thinner. The fight for America's food dollars continues to intensify as consumers find fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat food options at a wide and growing array of outlets across almost every channel: convenience stores, chain drug stores, restaurants, grocery stores, club stores, vending and even more non-food retailers like dollar stores.
While manufacturers, retailers and restaurants worry about choice overload, consumers have embraced their new choices and show no signs of returning to the old ways. This fight is taking place in what is called the grocerant niche for a larger share of the customers stomach.
The restaurant industry is not an industry known for trying to be first as in fastest to market with an ideation, food or technology advance. In the United States the larger the chain in almost all cases the more slowly they are to adopt something than a smaller chain or independent restaurants will. Chain restaurants goal is simple feed one meal at a time in the restaurant while protecting and edifying the brand.
Historically chain restaurant leaders have denied the credibility of start-up competitors as non-relevant. The pizza sector is a great example; evolving from family dinning independents to national chain of "Red Roof" Italian, then to delivery only outlets and now take-N-bake is garnering market share in the pizza sector. ( Note: Home Made Pizza Company and Pappa Murphy's are further examples of take and bake pizza operators.)
Increase in Non-Traditional Meal Occasions
At the intersection of the consumer, fresh prepared food and technology we fine that consumer eating behavior is evolving and is now beyond the control of traditional food marketers. Evolving culture and lifestyle, demographics along with the new uncertain economy are all putting pressure on the American food consumer: Demands of work, economic shrinkage, demands of raising a family, commuting, social interaction, kid's after-school activities, all contribute to a food marketplace where convenience vies with price over legacy brands. Recent advances in food packaging and new points of non-traditional food distribution have empowered consumer choice, and Americans are embracing these choices even as legacy marketers cringe. Who's after restaurant food dollars… simply put… everyone.
Why should you care if Walgreens is selling fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Made-2-Order sandwiches? Why should you care if Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Safeway and Wegmans are selling ready-2-eat and or Heat-N-Eat fresh pizza? Why should you care if Coinstar is selling Seattle Best Coffee at 1,000 locations for $1.00?
You should care because they are selling it, and you are not! The fastest growing sector of retail food service for the past four years has been the Convenience store sector. The C-store sectors growth in large part has been driven by fresh prepared food. Non-traditional avenues of distribution are growing, gobbling market share while establishing new patterns of consumption, price points and customer loyalty.
Consumers Like Today’s New Retail Food Formats
Trader Joe's and Whole Foods have created Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food items with qualitative differentiation as an entity with identity that has help propel them into Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared food leadership. In fact recent research shows that both Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are each known for high quality (restaurant quality) Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat foods with distinctive offerings. More important each is leading with innovative products and package size that create value and have positioned each chain as a food shopping destination for meal components customized and personalized for immediate consumption or mix and matched for a meal time at home. In short they are stealing your customers.

Walgreens fresh prepared food i s restaurant quality and priced less than Panera Bread or Corner Bakery CAFE. Both Panera Bread and Corner Bakery CAFE thrive in urban locations. Walgreens is now growing price, quality and speed of service advantages over legacy retailers. Legacy restaurant chains must reconsider the speed at which they evolve and adapt or non-traditional outlets will capture profits margins as well.

Traditional views of meals and mealtime can pretty much be discarded. Legacy retailers waiting for the "next big thing" to copy simply might be out of luck this time. Legacy food retailers may not like to be first movers very much but it may prove that waiting too long will not work this time.
Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price
The retail food world is evolving at an ever increasing pace filled with innovation in food, portion size, points of distribution, and quality fresh prepared meal solutions. The price, value, service equilibrium is resetting in retail foodservice. In order to edify the brand and reinforce consumer relevance restaurateurs must leverage Foodservice Solutions® 5P's of food marketing.

Many legacy food retailers continue to practice brand protectionism, stifle the brand while diminishing consumer relevance. The consumer is dynamic not static. Brands must be dynamic, evolving with the consumer. Four years of watching other retail sectors thrive should be long enough. Success in the restaurant world is no longer simply about what happens within your 4 walls.
Steven Johnson is Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based , with extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking. Johnson , or  Contact:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fresh Fruit is Fast Food C-Stores Are Getting ‘Better For You’

QSR stands for Quick Service Restaurants as most everyone knows.  There is a commonality between Quick Service Restaurants and Convenience stores and that commonality is speed of service.  Today that speed is only the foundation of commonality. Each sector focus on Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food too drive sales.

Just in case you are not a regular reader of this blog, over the past five years the C-store sector has outperformed the restaurant sector in year over year same store sales growth, new customer counts, and fresh prepared food sales.  Casey General Store is just one example of success and you must note that Casey’s General Stores has 1,780+ stores it’s not a small chain.  How may restaurant chains can boast a 21% growth rate over the past two years alone?

The C-store sector is beaming with success stories. Tedeschi Food Shops Inc. has added fresh fruit to its convenience stores. Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ said “Fresh Fruit is Fast Food” and it’s clear that fresh fruit will not impede speed of service but rather create a halo around product offerings that fast food can be “better for you”.

McDonald's Corp. on the other hand is going back to basics testing “speedy lunch” at some of its south Florida units.  At “participating restaurants in the region McDonalds will provide customers with timers when they pay for their drive-thru orders. The timers are to be returned to McDonald's crew members when their food arrives. If customers don't receive their meal within 60 seconds after paying, they will receive a complimentary lunch item on a future visit.”

Consider this; fast service with fresh fruit as a mix and match meal component, Oh that’s exactly what Tedeschi is doing.  Success does leave clues and five years of the C-store sector has out preformed the restaurant sector.  I believe that restaurants need more than just fast service. Fresh Fruit is Fast Food.

Outside eyes can deliver top sales and bottom line profits.  Invite  to provide brand and product positioning assistance or a grocerant program assessment. Have you completed a Grocerant Scorecard? Contact: 253-759-7869 or

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Meal Solutions LLC: Convenient Affordable Healthy Food

One Midwestern company is trying to provide a consumer focused solution to the time-stared consumer in search of fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food.  Located in  Lincoln, Nebraska Meal Solutions is striving to make eating healthy convenient offering great-tasting, healthy meals tailored to your personal dietary requirements brought right to your door or picked up at their kitchen location.

The founders of Meal Solutions BJ Christlieb and Ethan Taylor understood eating the right foods are important for your overall health and wellness. They understood finding the time in your busy schedule to run to the grocery store and prepare those healthy meals isn't always easy. The goal of Christlieb and Taylor was to create a service dedicated to offering healthy meals at an affordable price at an easy delivery or pick-up convenience. 

To ensure a measured and balanced approach Meal Solutions consults nutritionists to ensure all meals provide the nutrients and health benefits you need from your food. They did not shy away or skimp on taste either.  All of Meal Solutions meals are prepared by a culinary chef to optimize flavor.

Meal Solutions has a broad variety of ‘better for you” meals in-addition they offer custom meals: select your proteins, grains, and more for each meal! There are tons of options for healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Eating healthy doesn't have to be inconvenient nor does it mean you have to go to the grocery store any longer. 

Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food can be found in every corner of the country. The food from Meal Solutions is centered, balanced, and price competitive.  For more visit:

Visit:  if you are 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 or visit: Johnson,, or

Friday, November 21, 2014

Restaurant Thanksgiving Meals TO-GO, TAKE-AWAY, TAKE-OUT

Americans are Ready-2-Eat driving Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food sales. The National Restaurant Association has forecast that 4 million Americans would order a full takeout Thanksgiving meal from a restaurant in 2013, while 14 million would order parts of their Thanksgiving meal to be eaten at home. The Grocerant Niche is Booming.  Take a look at where you can get dinner TO-GO:

Bill Miller Bar-B-Q offers an assortment of Holiday Meals to go.  Broad Breasted Turkey Hen, Broad Breasted Turkey Tom, Honey Glazed Spiral Cut Ham and more.  All orders must be placed by 8:00 p.m. on Monday, November 24th and picked up by 7:00 p.m. on November 26th, as stores will be closing early.  Closed on Thanksgiving Day.  View menu.

Bob Evans will be open Thanksgiving from 8 am until 8 pm, but the chain is also offering its popular heat and serve Farmhouse Feast. The Feast serves up to eight, comes complete with your choice of turkey or ham, bread and celery dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, buttered sweet corn, green beans with ham, cranberry relish, rolls, pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie.  $79.99 (prices may vary by location). Additional servings of turkey or ham, bread, savory sides and desserts may be added a la carte.

Boston Market – Menu includes everything from whole roasted turkey or spiral-sliced ham to all the sides you crave, like savory stuffing and creamy mashed potatoes.  Dinner options to feed 4 to 12 people. You can order online, by phone or at your local Boston Market restaurant. Everything is already cooked, and it only takes about two hours to heat the entire meal.

Buca di Beppo Italian Restaurants Thanksgiving Feast To Go includes sliced white meat turkey or hickory-smoked ham, homestyle gravy, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, spicy Italian sausage stuffing, green beans and cranberry sauce.  Half pan serves ten for $159.99.  Full pan serves 20 for $299.99.  Prices may vary by location.

Chompie’s offers delicious complete Thanksgiving meal packages to go that serve 12-15 generously, as well as complete Thanksgiving dinners for 6 or more on Thanksgiving day. In addition to coming as part of the meal packages, Chompie’s also offers its extra large (18-20 lbs. raw weight) whole oven-roasted turkeys to go alone. A la carte Thanksgiving side dishes also available.  See full menu.

Cowboy Chicken is offering a Wood Fire Rotisserie Turkey Holiday Package, which feeds between eight to ten guests and features a 10-12 pound Wood Fire Rotisserie Turkey, Twice Baked Potaters, a Wild West Side, Country Style Stuffing, 12 dinner rolls, and Peach or Southern Blackberry Cobbler, all for $84.95.  Guests may order their Wood Fire Rotisserie Turkey Holiday Package at any Cowboy Chicken location between now and December 31st, 2014.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is offering Thanksgiving Dinner To-Go from November 22nd through November 30th.  Serve up to six for $59.99.  Oven Roasted Turkey Breast, Cornbread Dressing, Gravy, a sampling of Sugar-Cured Ham, choice of Three Country Sides, Cranberry Relish, choice of made from scratch Biscuits, Corn Muffins, or a Loaf of Sourdough Bread.  Click for more details.

Famous Dave’s is offering a Hickory Smoked Glazed Ham and Ham Feast and Cherrywood Smoked Turkey and Turkey Feast for pick up.  Feasts include Garlic Red-Skin Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Dave’s Cheesy Mac & Cheese, and Green Beans.  Order by November 23rd for Thanksgiving and pick it up November 26th.

Luby’s offers an extensive selection of holiday meals, side items and A la Carte selections.  Choices include Roasted Prime Rib, Whole Roasted Turkey Breast, Spiral Cut Ham, Whole Roasted Turkey, Whole Smoked Turkey, Whole Deep Fried Turkey and much more.  Click for menu.

Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que offers individual Thanksgiving Dinners to go which include slow-smoked turkey, ham or both, served with Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Mashed Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Southern Stuffing, Apples Sauteed in Jack Daniels, Giblet Gravy, Cranberry Sauce, Biscuits with Apple Butter and Sweet Potato Pie.  Adults $24.99, Kids $11.99.  Lucille’s Thanksgiving Day catering menu includes a choice of Smoked Sliced Turkey and/or Marinated Ham with all the fixings.  Guests can also order Hickory Smoked Whole Turkeys.  All holiday orders must be placed by November 25.

Maggiano’s Thanksgiving Day Carryout Package includes choice of salads, sides, desserts and pastas.  Entrees include Traditional Roast Turkey Breast, Country-Style Baked Nueske Ham and Parmesan-Crusted Tilapia.  Carryout orders must be placed by Monday, November 25th.

Marie Callender’s offers Holiday Feasts, Sides, Party Platters, Boxed Lunches and Desserts for carryout.  For selections and pricing, download Marie Callender’s Holiday Guide.

Max & Erma’s will be open Thanksgiving Day for dine-in, but guests can also order the chain’s Thanksgiving meal for carryout.  Guests can also order from the regular Max & Erma’s menu.

Mimi’s Cafe is offering Holiday Feasts To-Go, serving eight to ten, for $89.99.  Selections include 
Herb-Butter Basted Turkey with Gravy, Candied Pecan Sweet Potatoes, Whipped Mashed Potatoes, Buttered Cornbread Stuffing, Apple Cranberry Orange Relish, Green Bean Casserole, Whole Pumpkin Pie, six freshly-baked brown-sugar-topped Pumpkin Muffins.  Mimi’s will also offer “Just the Sides” and “Brunch at Home” to-go options.  Click for more information.

Ruffino’s will offer its annual Thanksgiving To-Go services from 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. The award-winning restaurant will also be open for dine-in guests during these hours, serving up traditional home-cooked meals alongside Ruffino’s signature “Creole meets Italian” favorites.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House offers your favorite side items to-go. Sweet Potato Casserole, Green Beans with Roasted Garlic and Creamed Spinach are all available in family-sized portions for $29.95 (serves ten to twelve).

Sticky Fingers Smokehouse is offering smoked turkey (10-12 lb), 5 quarts of Southern sides and pumpkin pie for $69.  Serves 4-6 people.  Pre-order by November 23

Texas Land & Cattle has its Thanksgiving Catering Menu available for Thanksgiving.  Orders must be placed by Nov. 24 for Thanksgiving Day pick up. Restaurants will be open Tuesday, Nov. 27 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Woody’s Bar-B-Q – Preorder your smoked turkey by November 15th.  8 – 10 lb. turkey $29.99.

Since 1991 retail food consultancy Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Foodservice Solutions® or for a Grocerant Scorecard visit,  Email: