Monday, March 27, 2023

What's Simple for Dinner Grocerant Meals and Meal Components


Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food continues to drive customer migration looking for a simple-solutions to the age-old question What’s for Dinner.

Steven Johnson speaking last week at the annual Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Summit laid out some facts that can help food retailers from every sector better understand the demand for simple meals fast.  Johnson stated that 83.6% of all restaurant meals in 2022 are purchased from a fast-food outlet or drive-thru, simple meals fast.

So, how do Americans decide what to have for dinner when they want to go out to eat? The most common ways that people find somewhere to eat are on Google (76%), through word-of-mouth recommendations (64%), on Yelp (39%), and on social media (30%).

When asked where Americans get dinner, most (77%) commonly eat at home or cook for themselves. 50% say they regularly get takeout or pick up, 31% say they go to restaurants, and 3% say they use a meal subscription box.

39% of consumers say they’re loyal to certain retailers because of specific prepared foods. 35% of retail foodservice consumers wait two to three hours to eat their food, and 21% wait 24 hours or more, according to Technomic’s U.S. Retail Foodservice report

No. 1 factor that consumers say would prompt them to purchase from retail foodservice is that the food looks good, and 27% of consumers say that fresher grab-and-go options would encourage them to make repeat purchases from a store’s prepared foods section. No. 1 breakfast item is a breakfast sandwich/wrap, with 42% of consumers saying they’d purchase.

Consumer Trend Report, 92% of consumers said they expected to maintain or increase their purchases of grab-and-go items in the near future

Grocery stores are capitulating customers to nontraditional fresh food channels of distribution.  They need help and FreshRealm just might be the company to help them.

According to FreshRealm, “persisting inflation coupled with work-from-home flexibility means consumers are eating at home more than ever across all day parts. Nearly 40% of Americans are opting for one to three prepared or semi-prepared breakfast and lunch options each week,1 and almost a quarter of shopper’s report paying more frequent visits to the fresh meals section of their grocery stores since the pandemic began. With consumers seeking at-home meal options that are fresh, delicious and convenient, retailers have an opportunity to capture valuable share-of-stomach with fresh prepared meal offerings.

So, as retailers look to capitalize on evolving consumer behavior by expanding their fresh prepared meal offerings, a deterrent may be skyrocketing labor costs and decreasing labor availability. In-house assembly requires costly labor commitments from employees across functions and levels—from store teams that assemble, package and stock meals; to planners that develop and source innovative recipes; to marketers that merchandise offerings across channels. Cost aside, with labor shortages continuing to plague the grocery industry, an undertaking that demands such heavy labor involvement may not be feasible.

Third-party partners present a compellingly cost-effective savings opportunity for grocery retailers facing the high-cost barriers of expanding fresh prepared meal offerings. A recent cost model comparison from FreshRealm found that retailers can save up to 40% when they choose to source fully prepared ready-to-cook and ready-to-heat meals from a third-party partner rather than assemble in-house. And the cost savings doesn’t stop with retailers—the Suggested Retail Price for the FreshRealm meal was 17% less than the meal made in-house, bringing cost relief to shoppers conflicted with the struggle of rising food costs, too. Retailers can then provide more variety and lower costs to consumers while driving foot traffic.

With the company’s wide array of fresh ready-to-eat, ready-to-heat, and ready-to-cook private label and branded meal solutions, Fresh Realm is uniquely positioned to offer a personalized solution that addresses every retailer and consumer need. 

Ready to start saving? FreshRealm is working with grocers nationwide to create fresh prepared meal in-store destinations. Visit for a full look at the company’s range of ready-to-heat, ready-to-cook and meal kit solutions that are helping retailers and consumers save when they need it most.”

Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideas look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how our Grocerant Guru® can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit: us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Time to Get Krystal Side Chik Bracket Challenge on Tiktok


College hoops are driving office conversations once again, family debates, and friendships. So, you know that Krystal, is the home of the original slider.  Now Krystal is heating up March brackets by launching its Side Chik Mania. Starting March 28, (in two days), TikTok will be heating up with a debate on the ultimate Side Chik. Joining in on the debate will be Victor Cruz, who will crown his Ultimate Side Chik through his TikTok bracket.

In case you did not know, the bracket starts with four Side Chiks; Spicy Chik, Donut-Glazed Sweet Chik Biscuit, Donut-Glazed Spicy Chik Biscuit, and of course the Classic Chik. After the initial matchup, the filter puts the winner to the final matchup. Fans of the fast-food chain can submit their picks, rating their favorite versions of the slider-sized chicken sandwiches. All users must do is tilt their head to the Side Chik of their choice.

Now, the Ultimate Side Chik will be chosen by fans and is based on the Side Chik that is the winner of the greatest number of brackets on TikTok. Pending guest responses, Krystal will crown the ultimate Side Chik on April 3.

Here pay attention; as Fans should be sure to cast their vote using the TikTok filter by April 3 and keep their DMs open. Pending which Chik is crowned the Ultimate Side Chik, Krystal will be DMing fans whose brackets had the same Ultimate Side Chik and “shooting their shot” with Krystal-themed surprise and delight gifts.

Ajona “Jax” Camile, Creative Marketing Director for Krystal, stated, “We’re always aiming to tap into cultural moments, and we refuse to always ‘play by the rules.’ Getting our audience talking is the ultimate goal at Krystal,” ... “So of course, we had to put our own spin on March basketball by bringing our Side Chiks courtside for their own competition.”

Are you looking for a new partnership to drive sales? Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may have the clue you need to propel your continued success.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

7-Eleven Is Getting All Charged Up for the Next Generation of Customers


Looking a customer ahead is what good companies do.  It is one of the successes that Steven Johnson our Grocerant Guru® regularly discuses on this blog.  7-Eleven the world’s largest convenience store chain has picked up and shared more success clues than almost any other retail food chain.   

Now 7‑Eleven Inc. is getting into the electric vehicle (EV) charging arena with its proprietary 7Charge network that is a big step-up in customer focus and a clue that they are looking a customer ahead.  While gasoline is not going away any time soon.  There will soon be a new generation of drivers that may never own a gasoline powered automobile.

So, 7-Eleven’s 7Charge is entering the market at select stores in Florida, Texas, Colorado and California. With the launch, 7‑Eleven intends to build one of the largest and most compatible EV fast-charging networks of any retailer in North America. Rollout will begin in the United States before making the jump to Canada.

The press release from 7-Eleven stated, the 7Charge network will offer EV drivers 7‑Eleven's trademark convenience and accessibility. 7Charge sites allow customers to charge any EV make and model compatible with common CHAdeMO or Combined Charging System plug types, and the 7Charge app offers a new level of convenience and coordination to customers looking for a seamless charging and payment experience.

So, the 7Charge app can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play, or by visiting 7‑

Joe DePinto, president and CEO at 7‑Eleven, stated, "For over 95 years, 7‑Eleven has innovated to meet our customers' needs — delivering convenience where, when and how they want it," said. "Now, we are innovating once again to meet our customers' where they are by expanding our business to provide EV drivers convenience of the future ... today."

This new 7Charge network will deliver on the growing consumer need for EV charging infrastructure. By expanding the 7Charge network, while continuing to utilize third-party fast-charging network options, 7‑Eleven will have the ability to grow its network to match consumer demand and make EV charging available to neighborhoods that have, until now, lacked access, the company said.

While it is still rolling out, once the network's expansion is complete, 7‑Eleven will have one of the largest and most compatible fast-charging networks of any retailer in North America serving communities and customers at charging stations across its entire family of brands including Speedway and Stripes stores.

Success does leave clues. One clue that time and time again continues to resurface is “the consumer is dynamic not static”.  Regular readers of this blog know that is the common refrain of Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  Our Grocerant Guru® can help your company edify your brand with relevance.  Call 253-759-7869 for more information

Friday, March 24, 2023

Grocerants Soaring, Restaurants and Grocery Stores Evolving


It is at the intersection of meals and convenience that consumers continue to migrate looking for grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

While fresh prepared meals and meal components for takeout, takeaway food, and drive-thru’s have garnered attention from the restaurant sector, convenience store sector, and more and more grocery stores Johnson believes that the undercurrent driving customer adoption is consumers desire for a ‘larger variety of ethnic flavored fresh food, and the lack of time to prepared each, or lack of skill-set to cook all of the new flavor profiles consumers have become accustomed too.

After all it was Johnson who coined the term Grocerant.  Grocerant is a result of the blurring of the line between restaurants and grocery stores created, defined, and first published as an Op-Ed article titled: Call Them Grocerants in August 1996 in FoodService Director and again in Nation’s Restaurant News authored by our own Steven Johnson to describe the undercurrents of food industry consumer changing eating a buying pattern.

On a side note: Johnson and Foodservice Solutions® received a US Trademark for the word Grocerant in 1998, subsequently gave it up to become our ‘Grocerant Guru®’. Today at Foodservice Solutions®.

No matter how much you love your local grocery store and local restaurant, you’re unlikely to be keen on admitting that you have been blurring the lines between the two.  Today, grocery stores are a bit of a nuisance walking around for 15 minutes as you look for three times. Simply put at the end of the day, grocery stores take too long to shop. They’re loud, busy, and generally not the kind of place you want to hang out.

Unlike legacy grocery store a visit to Trader Joe’s in New York City feels like a trip to an amusement park compared to your local Publix or Kroger as – they want that you stay longer.  Now then the British ideal of a supermarket – a supermarket where you’re whisked in and out of as quickly as possible with minimal eye contact and conversation – meant that the original definition of a grocer couldn’t survive the voyage across the pond is much better suited for today’s consumers. Simply put Trader Joes understand today’s consumers better than most legacy grocery stores.

In London, there are now more Grocerant’s with a twist after the launches of Lulu’s, London Shell Co., Forno, Oren Delicatessen, and more over the past year, grocers have certainly landed in the city. But they are not a side business of the supermarket, but of the restaurant.

We all know that recent pandemic lockdowns forced the hospitality industry to transform dramatically to stay afloat, some restaurants switched to delivery mode while others switched to retail. Now, almost three years later, some of the places that have shifted have stayed. While the grocerant trend has been around since 1996, it has picked up steam and is rolling along in 2023. Don’t let the trend pass you by this time.

So, one such example is London Shell Co., which is about to open its third location and first land-based location, which became a wet fish retailer while Covid restrictions halted service. The new restaurant serves items including whole Cornish crab for sharing, house-smoked anchovies and trout sausages with puree, and doubles as a wine shop and fishmonger.

And in these days of being trapped at home, many of us got more creative in the kitchen to remember the taste of a meal we didn’t cook ourselves. The more intrepid we got, the more we hunted for special ingredients until even the big Tesco couldn’t do it anymore. Enter the deli – in this case specifically the deli that is part of a restaurant. Lulu’s, the wine bar and little sister of Llewelyn’s in Herne Hill, is a prime example as it’s a great place to snag (currently) very trendy tinned seafood from The Tinned Fish Market.

Today it is these grocerant spots that we can trust: the ones that provide some of the best spots for full flavored food we do not know how to cook, nor do we want to.  In that case dinner is settled, once again it will be grocerant Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

All Food Retailers Need to Focus on or Pay Attention to SNAP

At the intersection of What’s for Dinner and Food Sales is the United States Department of Agriculture SNAP Program.  So just what is SNAP: SNAP provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of needy families so they can purchase healthy food and move towards self-sufficiency. Focus o

Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®, stated, “all food retailers need to understand how the SNAP program can or could help them drive top-line sales and bottom-line profits. That includes Restaurants, Convenience Stores, Grocery Stores, Dollar Stores, and Bodegas.”

First did you know that overall, SNAP consumers account for nearly one-quarter (24%) of total CPG spend, and are more likely to have children, live in urban areas and be in the bottom 30th percentile in purchasing power compared to non-SNAP consumers. 

In case you did not know, Numerator, a data and tech company serving the market research space, has released its latest report—Helping SNAP Consumers During Economic Headwinds—which examines the full impact of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on modern consumers through the analysis of verified purchases by SNAP recipients. Overall, SNAP consumers account for nearly one-quarter (24%) of total CPG spend, and are more likely to have children, live in urban areas and be in the bottom 30th percentile in purchasing power compared to non-SNAP consumers. Here are more findings:

Consumer Behavior & Sentiment Findings:

·         SNAP recipients represent a diverse group of consumers. 61% of SNAP recipients are in the bottom 30th percentile in terms of purchasing power, 45% have children (compared to 28% of non-SNAP households), 29% have 5+ members in their household, and 37% are Gen Z or Millennial. Compared to non-SNAP households, SNAP households are twice as likely to be Black/African-American or Hispanic/Latino. 

·         Economic uncertainty affects SNAP households more severely. 79% say their financial situation is the same or better compared to the prior year, but 1 in 5 SNAP households say they are overwhelmed with financial burdens and 56% are concerned about job stability (compared to 31% of non-SNAP recipients). 

·         Even with government assistance, SNAP recipients feel food insecurity. Over 1 in 4 SNAP consumers (26%) say they are unable to buy enough food to feed their family. 

·         Health issues and healthcare costs are significant concerns. SNAP consumers are 3.8x more likely to be disabled, and they are 56% more likely to be not actively managing their health, compared to non-SNAP consumers.

·         Utilization of SNAP during a shopping trip results in larger purchases. When SNAP consumers utilize their benefits during a shopping trip, basket size is $15 more, spend per trip on groceries is almost $18 more, and units per trip double (from 5.2 to 10.4).

·         SNAP recipients are disproportionately spending more per unit. In the latest quarter ending 12/31/2022 compared to YA, SNAP consumers are paying 13% more per unit, compared to 11% more for non-SNAP consumers – driven by increased inflation on baby and health & beauty products that SNAP consumers over-index on, as well as in the Dollar channel.

·         To save money, SNAP recipients are pulling back on snacks. Units purchased per household are down significantly in snack categories such as popcorn (-23.6% vs YA), meat snacks (-18%), and snack seeds, nuts & trail mixes (-15.9%).

·         Trading down to private label helps to reduce the sting of inflation.  Although unit sales are down, Walmart, Aldi and Kirkland private labels are outperforming branded CPG. For example, Great Value unit sales are down 4% vs YA, compared to branded unit sales dropping 20%.

·         Affordable luxuries like personal care items have not seen a pullback on spending. Categories such as toothbrushes (+6.3% units per household vs YA), beer (+4.6%) and face makeup (-0.5%) are holding their own or growing with SNAP consumers.

·         SNAP consumers vary their shopping locations. SNAP consumers are 56% more likely to spend their CPG dollars at Dollar stores, 24% more likely at Convenience stores, and 12% more likely at Mass retailers (compared to non-SNAP consumers). 

·         Regional and ethnic grocery stores are winning SNAP household trips because of their lower price increases. Among the retailers growing trips with SNAP households are H-Mart (42% of projected trips), Market Basket (42%), Whole Foods Market (36%), 99 Ranch Market (35%), and Wegmans (31%). 

·         SNAP consumers are 37% more likely to eat out four or more times per week, but they are moving food trips back to stores. As SNAP recipients pull back on dining out, Starbucks, KFC, Burger King and Little Caesars are seeing the most lost trips.

·         More inclusive grocery delivery services would benefit consumers and retailers. 20% of SNAP recipients say they wish that grocery delivery services made it easier to utilize their program benefits. Currently, 12.9% of SNAP consumers use Walmart+, followed by DoorDash DashPass (5%), and Albertsons Freshpass (4.3%). 

About Numerator:

Numerator is a data and tech company bringing speed and scale to market research.  Numerator blends first-party data from over 1 million US households with advanced technology to provide 360-degree consumer understanding for the market research industry that has been slow to change. Headquartered in Chicago, IL, Numerator has 2,000 employees worldwide; 80 of the top 100 CPG brands’ manufacturers are Numerator clients.

Who are you selling to today?  Where can you be selling food tomorrow and to whom?

Don’t over reach. Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions® can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit us on our social media sites by clicking the following links: FacebookLinkedIn, or Twitter 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Grocery Stores and Restaurants Continue Battling for Share of Stomach


In the continuing battle for share of stomach the consumer continues to migrate with the food price, value, service equilibrium according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

The formula for the price, value, service equilibrium continues to evolve success was: Price + Quality + Service + Portability = Value.  That formula has evolved with Gen Z and Millennials today.  Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® has once again retooled, reevaluated, calculated then evolved the formula and here is the new formula:  Price + Quality + Social + Portability = Value.

Currently, price is top of mind for most consumers. That said Consumer Price Index for February indicated a narrowing of the gap between grocery and restaurant prices, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week.

So, the index for food at home, mostly groceries, rose 10.2% over the last 12 months, and the index for food away from home, mostly restaurants, rose 8.4% over the past year. The index for full-service meals rose 8% over the last 12 months, and the index for limited-service meals rose 7.2% over the same period.

Mark Kalinowski of Kalinowski Equity Research, stated, “With grocery prices continuing to rise at a faster rate than restaurant prices, and with commodity-cost inflation remaining a huge challenge – coupled with what has been so far fairly manageable consumer resistance to menu price increases,” …“we expect that U.S. restaurants will continue to raise menu prices at a meaningfully higher-than-historical-average rate during the first half of 2023, if not for longer.”

Here is the good news for restaurants.  The Consumer Price Index data showed the gap between groceries and restaurants narrowed in February from January, when food at home rose 11.3% and food-away from home was up 8.2% in the past year.

Kalinowski added, “The 1.8 percentage-point difference between food-at-home’s 10.2% and food-away-from-home’s 8.4% nevertheless remains one of the widest gaps in 40-plus years... “However, on a monthly basis, it is 370 basis points less than the 5.5 percentage-point gap witnessed for July 2022 and August 2022. We expect the gap to continue to narrow over the next six to 12 months, meaning that the current advantage for restaurants is likely to dissipate in the not-so-distant future.”

Ron Ruggles of NRN reported, “Noah Hayes, general manager for the U.S. and Canada at Deliverect, a global software-as-a-service company for online food-delivery management, said in a statement:

“Inflation is dominating the conversation in every industry and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer prices rose 6% for the year ending in February,” Hayes said. “With the food index increasing 0.4% over the month and 9.5% year over year, consumers have felt the impact.”

Consumers “undoubtedly” are increasing their consciousness of spending, he said, adding that restaurants can automate tasks and optimize menu pricing.

“While finding ways to boost profits and reduce costs will be imperative for the bottom line, restaurants should continue offering competitive wages to recruit and retain staff,” Hayes said. “A happy team and operationally savvy kitchen is the winning recipe when it comes to offering a high standard of service to customers.”

Consumers are time starved, looking for meal solutions.  They are looking for grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meals according to the team at Foodservice Solutions®.

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

In a Battle For Share of Stomach

You Can WIN!