Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Cook from Scratch No Way the New Normal is Meal Assembly

If your cooking for an at home for family meal today for two, three, or four, family members, chances are very good your buying several Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meal components.    Dollar stores, Grocery stores, convenience stores, and restaurants are all bundling fresh prepared meal components for the home cook.  The home cook is responding buying individualized components that can be mixed and matched into a perfect family meal.

Today retail foodservice manufactures of either branded or private label fresh prepared food are vying for your attention. Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat grocerant niche fresh foods the ilk of Swiss steak, Meatloaf, Baked Salmon, Rotisserie Chicken, Pizza and Lasagna can be found fresh prepared, portioned and portable in portions for 1,2, or 5 are all available at most legacy grocery retail locations but more often than not at new non-traditional locations.  

Here is what is exciting. It’s the opportunity for new start-up’s and regional manufactures to produce sustainable business built on local, fresh and unique flavor profiles.  Legacy national brand manufactures are experiencing an increase in re-positioning, consolidation and acquisition activities.  Regional start-ups are thriving supplying local restaurants, C-stores, Drug stores, Liquor stores and legacy grocery store delis.

Consumer are responding buying meal components in new food channels, experiencing new flavor profiles all the while individualizing the family meal.  The foodservice industry is evolving with the consumer.  Those companies looking for opportunity for growth,  times have never been better. The consumer is dynamic not static are you keeping pace?

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit: or

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Does Kroger want Walgreens Because Walgreens is What’s for Dinner

Kroger is one of the oldest legacy operators of traditional supermarkets is evolving and evolving fast. 
They have been on a grocerant niche buying/growth streak for several years gobbling up the likes of Harris Teeter, Mariano's Fresh Market, and building a test grocerant concept store Main & Vine

Recently according to a Bloomberg report Kroger may be interested in buying of some of the 500 stores that will likely be put up for sale prior to the merging of Walgreens/Rite Aid. That makes a lot of sense according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® as those Walgreens/Rite Aid locations are typically in prime urban spots and grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food would complement the existing pharmacy business.

Walgreens continues to expand the depth and direction of its own Grocerant niche offering.  The grocerant niche is a result of the blurring of the line between restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, and drug stores all selling fresh prepared, portable convenient meal solutions. 

Walgreens via Duane Reade has successfully targeted the time-starved consumer with Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food components that are “better for you”, portable and portioned for one or two. Walgreens gets it and is positioning for a much larger share of the food retailing dollar.  At 4PM you may soon be picking up dinner on your way home from work at Walgreens this just might be a defensive play for Kroger.  

Walgreens has rolled out  fresh food from coast to coast in the San Francisco bay area you can now find fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, sushi , sandwiches and Heat-N-Eat meat loaf. In addition Walgreens spokesman Robert Elifinger stated “ Our San Francisco area customers are already buying a lot of food in our stores, and there are requests for more product offerings,"

In addition to the items listed above - and Walgreens' more traditional offerings, including candy, potato chips and soda - there'll be meats, wraps, soups "and other on-the-go meal options, as well as convenient alternatives for tonight's meal," according to Elifinger.
Walgreens is has expanded grocerant niche fresh food in New York, Chicago, LA, and the San Francisco bay area. For all of my regular readers you have heard it hear all of this before but this trend is sweeping the country from coast to coast.  These expanded points of distribution may well challenge many a legacy fresh food retailer including chain restaurants, grocery stores and convenience stores for market share.

Since 1991 retail food consultancy Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven Johnson and Foodservice Solutions® Bing or Google Grocerants or visit, or Facebook Steven 

Monday, August 29, 2016

$ 10 Billion in Grocerant Sales and Still Growing

Consumers not retailers are driving the adopting of grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson.  It’s not just a battle between restaurants and grocery stores it’s a battle for the ability to customize and personalize a family meal with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meal components that are being offered at new non-traditional locations the ilk of Ikea, Pinkies Liquor Stores, and Walgreen's. 

Steven Johnson, our very own and the Grocerant Guru®, says this: "Grocerant means any retail food item that is Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat. Traditionally these items can be found in grocery stores in the deli/lifestyle section, C-stores [convenience stores] in the prepared food area and prepackaged, ready-to-eat items, and in restaurants under the to-go, takeout or take away or delivery section of the menu or on the website."

Today that means consumers can Everytabe which was the subject of a recent blog or Pinkies Liquor Stores, Ikea, Wawa, Sheetz or even 7-Eleven and find fresh prepared food.  Most of you still however visit your legacy grocery stores and you’ll see rotisserie chicken, meatloaf, steak fries, and mac and cheese all sitting under heat lamps ready for you to pick up, take home, and serve as if you slaved away in the kitchen all day. Or, in some stores, you can sit down and dine as if you’re at your favorite restaurant.

The grocerant craze is far from a cult following. In the past eight years, sales of prepared foods from grocery stores have risen 30%; in 2015, it reached $10 billion of consumer spending.  Consumers have deemed most of the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food ‘restaurant quality’ according research conducted by Foodservice Solutions®.

Today grocerant niche food that can be mix and match into a perfect bundle can be found at Romano's Macaroni Grill, Olive Garden, McDonald’s, Publix, Whole Foods 365 Costco, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens  and just about any other type brick-and-mortar outlet you can name.  Are you ready to expand?  Looking for even just a piece of the next $10 billion dollars in grocerant growth?  Call 253-759-7869

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:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Nathan’s Famous Expands the Brand

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® says that “Success does leave clues”.  When a brand reaches 100 years old there are plenty of clues they must have picked-up.  Nathan’s today thrives from coast to coast and has gone from a boardwalk brand to a bedrock brand. 
The team at Nathan’s Famous knows that for a company to stay in business long enough to celebrate its   100th anniversary they must evolve with consumers.  Regular readers of this blog know that consumers are dynamic not static.  Let’s see just how Nathan’s is evolving today according to stories in the trades.
“To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Nathan’s Famous, Inventure Foods expands its licensed line of snacks with the introduction of Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Potato Chips. These potato chips are flavored like Nathan’s iconic hot dog, complemented by ketchup, mustard and relish flavors. The product is 150 calories per serving, has zero trans fats, and is gluten-free. Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Potato Chips are available in 1.25-ounce bags in vending machines, as well as 4-ounce bags in select convenience stores nationwide for a suggested retail price of $1 and $1.99 per package, respectively.
Success does leave clues and building top line awareness within the C-store channel with Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Potato Chips is simply another way to extend the brand while building a new base of customers. 

For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: is 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: or more information. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Everytable Restaurant or Foundational Grocerant Format

The battle for share of stomach continues to grow according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson.  Recently acclaimed chef Craig Hopson (New York City restaurant Le Cirque) opened another one if his Everytable outlets foodservice professionals have been confounded and fighting what to call it.

Some want to claim it as a restaurant since his background is a noted chef while others want to simply call  it a grocerant where a family can mix and match quality fresh prepared meal components into a perfectly constructed family meal. 

Inside Everytable, “dozens of meals prepared fill the shelves, waiting to be microwaved. There’s a Jamaican jerk chicken dish, made with coconut rice, beans, kale and plantains; a bowl of spaghetti squash and turkey-quinoa meatballs, designed to be a kids meal; and a Puebla chicken tinga, a version of the classic Mexican dish made with chipotle sauce, a blend of grains and chayote-roasted onions and peppers.” Each meal component is targeting the on the go consumer with grab and go fresh food fast.
Without doubt Everytable is a new concept designed as consumer interactive a participatory. It therefor according to our own Grocerant Guru® qualifies as a grocerant. As consumers can walk in, grab a prepared meal and either heat it up with available microwaves and eat it at the location, or take it away to eat at home. Everything is priced to be affordable to everyone, regardless of income.

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:

Friday, August 26, 2016

Giant Eagle Doubles Up on Fresh

Giant Eagle doubles down on multi-format fresh food with its first two-story Market District Express store, which offers a new signature restaurant alongside a “best of” experience in a more intimate setting “according to a company press release and an article in Progressive Grocer.
The Market District’s signature restaurant will offer diners a full-service restaurant experience complete with dedicated restaurant seating for 155, and a menu inspired by fresh, seasonal ingredients and the local communities wants and needs.
The menu with have prices ranging from $6 - $11 per plate, table by Market District is the perfect lunch or dinner destination. In addition to gourmet meals, table by Market District features one of the most extensive beer and wine lists in Columbus.
In keeping with the growing grocerant niche trend of consumer interactive participation customers can enjoy 18 craft beers on tap, order wine by the glass, or select a bottle of wine from the 1,200 varieties available in-store for the selling price of the bottle plus a $10 corkage fee.
Giant Eagle is doubling down with a focus on fresh, with meal solutions for the home chef, and the culinary expertise of the approximately 70 supermarket and 40 restaurant team members who bring the store to life. With grocerant niche interactive participation including:
1.        Curbside Express - an online grocery ordering service that caters to on-the-go customers. Combining the ease of online ordering with the convenience of parking lot pick-up, customers can complete their grocery shopping without having to leave their vehicles.
  1. Beer, Wine & Liquor - in addition to a full bar, Market District Express will carry more than 1,200 varieties of wine and more than 400 craft, domestic, and imported beers including offerings from local breweries like North High, Seventh Son and Columbus Brewing.
  2. Local - carefully curated products from more than 20 local purveyors, ranging from pasta sauce to potato chips, and sourced from within 150 miles of the store, add a taste of central Ohio to the Market District Express aisles.
  3. Deli Favorites - lunch meats and cheeses, all sliced to order – plus flavorful side salads, salsas, hummus, dips, spreads and more are perfect prepared options for customers on the go.
  4. Freshly Cut Meats - Market District-made sausages, marinated meats, gourmet burgers, beef, pork, poultry and more with butchers available to show customers why we’re a cut above the rest.
  5. Fresh Seafood - home to Team Members with an ocean of knowledge to share on swordfish, tuna, marinated filets, shrimp, crab cakes and more.
  6. Produce - grown across the globe and by local Columbus-area farmers, assortment ranges from exotic to organic to conventional fruits and vegetables.
  7. Bakery - sweets ranging from cupcakes, muffins, donuts, cookies, French croissants and fresh bagels.
Success does leave clues and focusing on the consumer with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat grocerant niche fresh prepared consumer interactive participatory food is a success clue for all.

Since 1991  of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Johnson, or or Contact our Grocerant Guru® at:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Look In the Frozen Food Court for a Baskin-Robbins Treat

Success does leave clues and today consumers demand the availability of their favorite brands where and when they want them.  Legacy retail brands the ilk of Baskin-Robbins has found that consumers want to buy their ice cream in the frozen food court at their local grocery store as well as in their retail outlets.
In order to give the customers what they want Dunkin’ Brands, the parent of Baskin-Robbins, partnered with Boardwalk Frozen Treats to make that happen.  So very soon you will be able to by the legacy ice cream from your local grocery stores including many favorites, such as mint chocolate chip and pralines and cream. 
Boardwalk Frozen Treats CEO Dave Owens stated “The extension of restaurant brands into grocery stores is a relatively recent development, mostly in the past 20 years. The motivation is to build brand ubiquity and consumption in all channels where food is sold. Dunkin’ Brands had great success introducing Dunkin’ Donuts packaged coffee into grocery stores in 2007, so pursuing a similar strategy for Baskin-Robbins made sense.”

Owens noted that the power of the brand comes from the fact that “Baskin-Robbins is the world’s largest ice cream chain with more than 7,700 scoop shops, including 2,500-plus in the U.S. Brand awareness is 89% nationwide, among the highest among ice cream brands. When Baskin-Robbins pints are placed on grocery shelves, consumers immediately recognize the brand proposition….
Baskin-Robbins is an all-family and all-American brand, and retailers understand the importance of appealing to that demographic. Baskin-Robbins spends approximately $25 million annually on marketing and T.V. advertising, which keeps the brand front and center in consumers’ minds and buyers appreciate that support”
Baskin-Robbins understand that the consumers is dynamic not static and continues to evolve by adding  novelties, including ice cream sandwiches and bars, which will serve additional consumer eating occasions. Baskin-Robbins will expand beyond grocery stores and supermarkets into other retail channels including mass merchants, club stores, drug stores and convenience stores.

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:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ten Clues to include in your Grocerant Marketing Tool-Kit

The value of a product or brand at times diminishes in consumer relevance. What is important to the consumer is ever evolving and the vernacular of your brand must as well. Foodservice Solutions® understands that the consumer is dynamic not static. Here are 10 clues to keep your brand dynamic.

1. Symbolism. Why you are there! The most successful brands are inclusive they include values greater than themselves. They create a consumer acceptable lifestyle, a philosophy, an emotion a point in time.

2. A story. Most major brands have a story. Examples: if you like Ford vehicles, you might be familiar with the story of Henry Ford or if you love your Nikes, you probably know how the Nike swoosh logo was created.

3. A track record. When your business is first starting out, don't fool yourself into believing that your marketing efforts are 'brand building' efforts. They're not because to build a real brand, you have to have an extensive track record with consumers.

4. Trust. When you've consistently delivered for your customers long enough, you'll gain the type of trust that many brands have. Case in point: a friend of mine always reminds people that he won't buy an automobile that isn't a BMW. He's had a good experience with his and trusts so much in the company that he doesn't believe there's a better-made car.

5. Expectation. When a consumer chooses a product or service because of brand association, he or she is buying an expectation. Perhaps it's the expectation that the branded product is of higher quality or that the service will be provided in a more efficient manner.

6. Differentiation. Expectation is often borne of differentiation. Many brands offer products and services that are commodities but they're successful in developing some differentiation for their products and services that consumers are sold on. After all differentiation does not mean different it means familiar but with a twist. 

7. Imitators. Imitation is the sincerest of flattery and you're probably not a 'brand' until you have competitors trying to copy you. Clearly our own Grocerant Guru® has become an industry icon.

8. Market leadership. Top brands are usually looked at as leaders in the markets they compete in.

9. Adaptability. The best brands are flexible and capable of reshaping and reinventing themselves and their messages over time. Coca-Cola is a good example of a brand that has never abandoned its core product but has evolved its message over time to keep up with changes in the marketplace and society at large.

10. A strong marketing presence. Although it's nice to believe that you can market yourself for free on Facebook and Twitter, the reality is that brands aren't advertising on television and radio because they're dumb. Building maintaining grocerant brand equity requires awareness and awareness requires an inclusive integrated marketing program.

Steven Johnson is the Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®, with extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, foodservice consultant, Grocerant brand / product positioning expert.  Visit: or Email:  Office: 1-253-759-7869

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fresh Fruit is Fast Food

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® has help introduce fast food restaurants and convenience stores to the notion that fresh fruit is fast food and with that comes the halo of ‘better for you’ since 1991. Retailers have found success with Apples, Cuties, Cherries, Strawberries, grapes, and blackberries.
Consumer adoption of grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food has help fuel the increased offerings from both chain restaurants and conveniences stores.  Recently the Chicago Tribune reported that “The latest to capitalize on the fresh food movement are fast-food restaurants, which have been procuring fresh fruit for salads and smoothies.”
Integrating fresh in the ‘fast food space’ has not been simple the tribune article pointed out that “for instance, it took Wendy’s more than 24 months to figure out how to add blackberries to a new salad. McDonald’s had similar problems finding enough mangoes for its new fruit smoothie.”
The article continued “While Wendy’s salad and McDonald’s fruit smoothies have been winners, both burger chains had flops, such as when McDonald’s tried baby carrots in its Happy Meals and Wendy’s attempted to offer a fresh fruit bowl—neither were popular with consumers.”
Convenience stores the ilk of Wawa, Sheetz and 7-Eleven all have had great success integrating both fresh salads and fresh fruit into their formats creating a platform that has help dispel any legacy image of unhealthy, bad for you, or a bygone.  Today C-stores are helping lead the way with and expanded fresh food offering creating a new fresh food fast image that continues to drive customer adoption. 

Foodservice Solutions® team is here to help you drive top line sales and bottom line profits.  Are you Looking A Customer Ahead?  Visit  or Contact for more information.  Remember Success does leave clue and we just may have the right clue for you. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Dollar Store Sector Grocery Store Disruption is Still Fresh

Consumer adoption of Dollar General Corporations stores, format, and product has long been the Achilles heel of the legacy grocery store sector.  With an ever increasing reliance on CPG food Dollar General will continue to garner customers from the grocery sector with the exception of companies the ilk of Aldi, WinCo, and Lidl according to Foodservice Solutions®.

This August Dollar General opened its 13,000th dollar store, and they are only in a total of 43 states.  With no sign of letting up and seven states to go Dollar General continues courting incremental customer adoption.

Now with 13,000 stores in 43 states, Dollar General is one of the largest discount retailers in the United States. Then there is Dollar Tree, which has approximately 13,600 stores after it recently acquired Family Dollar. Combined there are almost as many Dollar stores as there are legacy grocery store still looking for solutions to customer migration.

Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s CEO stated “We look to deliver the Dollar General business model to communities across the country”.   Dollar General increasing is offering fresh food products that are Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat.  Which compliment the CPG food products consumers frequently used and replenished, such as food, snacks, and milk items at low everyday prices in convenient locations.

Price sensitive with an increased focus on Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food Dollar General is positioning to garner incremental customer traffic, sales, and profits. 

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

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Pizza Technology Takes Center Stage

As a graduate of two Jesuit Universities myself I was not surprised when I read that Xavier University located in Cincinnati was the first to install a college students dream machine an automated robotic pizza machine.  The old saying if the Jesuits get you for four years they have you for life must have been updated to they get you with pizza 24/7 why leave!
Technology has found another way to expand the offering of fresh prepared food that is Ready-2-Eat with less labor.  In fact a restaurant robot / machine opened on the Cincinnati university campus a pizza "ATM"  as it was reported in the press is stocked with 70 pizzas waiting to be cooked and dispensed in three minutes each.
The machine ‘ATM’ “features 12-inch pies assembled by hand by the dining hall staff of Xavier University. Each pizza maker was trained for 40 hours by a French chef to make the pies. …The pizzas will sell for between $9 and $10, and the university expects to sell 300 a day” according to the press.
Here is where you have to love the machine not only replace the cook but the food marketer as well.  The pie count will be monitored in real time, and the ATM will offer discounts if the pizza isn't moving. If success does leave clues one clue for sure is college students love pizza.  We think that this machine just might take the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat grocerant niche to the next level.
Note: Xavier holds exclusive rights to the devices in North America, requiring other interested parties to train and obtain certification from the school. The supplier is a French company.

Since 1991  of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Johnson, or or Contact our Grocerant Guru® at: