During the mid-1980’s Home Meal Replacement was the talk of the retail food industry. What many legacy grocers failed to understand was the opportunity for fresh prepared food as a day-part meal opportunity / solutions because they were not really in the meals business. More important they didn’t want to be in the fresh prepared meal business. Much like today most legacy grocery retailers are in the pantry business and do not want to be in the fresh prepared meal business. There is but one problem with that, the customer has moved from filling the pantry to What’s for Dinner? They want fresh prepared meals.
Grocery retailers back in the day (1980’s) thought that Home Meal Replacement (HMR) specifically in store fresh prepared food cost too much to work. They complained that their labor went out of line when trying HMR, that it created scheduling problems, and had too much waste. The same holds true today. Most grocery stores today continue to treat the Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food as a 1980’s HMR program and an CPG product.
In fact Progressive Grocer Magazine’s just completed Grocerant Summit that became a platform advocating more of the same, that is to say it looked and sounded more like yesterday (10 years ago) than today, more importantly it sounded nothing like tomorrow’s retail food world.
In fact there were purveyors, Grocerant Summit sponsors, and speakers touting “fresh” products with a shelf life of 14 to 23 days! That is simply ridiculous, disingenuous, and disrespectful of the industry and the consumer today.
The lack of focus on fresh prepared food with a consumer interactive and participatory design during the Grocerant Summit is an indication that the legacy grocery store sector will continue to see customer erosion and market share capitulation.
During the mid-1980’s grocery stores simply did not want to deal with fresh prepared food. So they cut corners, mass produced product what they called fresh, packaged it like it was a CPG brand, and let it sit on display or under heat lamps way to long.
In short they blew it, and many still are doing it wrong. Then they went back doing what they always did, and doing it the same way. One problem consumers are dynamic not static, the Grocerant niche continued to grow around the world and our Grocerant Guru™ was there.
It used to be restaurant chefs were the industry tastemakers and retail eventually playing copy-cat caught up with the trends. Today many tastemakers come from Grocerant niche retailers. Driven by increased demand and customer migration from cook from scratch to Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food everyone from Soccer Mom’s to Senior Citizens are putting pressure on retailers for fresh prepared food.
If grocery stores want to become valued retailers within the food space they need to begin focusing on Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food with seriousness not lip service.
All retailers are in a fierce battle to garner a larger share of stomach and the battle ground for customers is taking place in the grocerant Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared food space. Are Grocery stores prepared to garner customers or will they continue to capitulate them?
Grocery stores are now playing catch-up with the fast expanding Convenience store sector focusing on Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food companies the ilk of Wawa, Sheetz, and Rutter’s Farm Stores. Grocery stores over the past decade have lost out too full service and fast casual restaurants that have driven Take-Away, Take-Out Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food from 5% to near 15% of sales today.
Trapped in footprint malaise traditional grocery stores are closing stores, capitulating business and it’s time for a new view, and new business model, the Grocerant model. Visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us or call: 253-759-7869 Email: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us