Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Grocerants are not STUCK in a reality of the past, is your retail food company?

Size does matter today in food retailing. Grocerants are providing more than just an element of convenience, speed of service, quality branded and non-branded portable ready-to-eat & ready-to-heat better for you food. We are witnessing dramatic change in how, where and why consumers buy food. Retailers in the Grocerant niche are experimenting with alternative formats. In most every case the retail footprint has been reduced in size. Burger Kings Whopper Bar is one example that is being rolled out with a global footprint.
In Japan Aeon co. Japan’s largest grocery store chain is in the process of opening 500 convenience stores in the Tokyo metro area alone. The new stores will range in size from 130-200 sq. meters each. That is quite a departure from their traditional large store format. Interestingly Aeon already operates a smaller format with 3,000 units called Ministop stores. Obviously size does matter, being close to your customer matters even more. Aeon’s move is following in the footstep of Great Britain’s Tesco new smaller store format that is now taking off in Britain and in the US under the banner Fresh & Easy. With Whole Foods recent success with prepared “food stations” in how long before they build smaller footprint Grocerant style units with better for you food?
Is your company stuck in the past? Is protecting you brand more important than your customer? How often do you say “We don’t do that”? Brand Protectionism can lead to a brands demise. Take a look at the Whopper bar by Burger King:
For more go information on the history of the Grocerant niche follow the first link to: or to learn more about Foodservice Solutions follow this link: .

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Global food footprint of Grocerants continues to grow.

Despite the Global recession one of the most successful niches is the Grocerant Ready-to-Eat and Ready-to-Heat prepared food niche. The above picture is from McDonalds in Moscow, just in case you could not read the sign. It is simply one of the trendiest looking that McDonalds has opened. With customers sitting at the window with their laptops you just might think it was a Starbucks. Global brand competition is picking up for all brands. The opportunity to learn from quality operator’s world wide should be a required components of your ongoing educational tool kit.

In France the Grocerant niche has been booming since the 1979 the quality of food and range of offerings is exciting to view at Monoprix, Intermarche’ and Carrefour. In Germany the Haub family’s Tengelmann group of Supermarkets not only sell quality Grocerant style food but they are leading in development of climate-friendly stores they opened the first CO2-free supermarket in 2008.

Through-out Europe McDonalds franchisee’s like the McCafe concept because the platform entices customers to frequent during non-traditional rush periods. Particularly breakfast and mid-day break periods. American based food operators might do-well to visit these leading international players. They understand food, food consumers and have focused on bundling quality meal components to consumers for a long time. They are in fact breaking new ground and leading the way in the Grocerant niche. Grocerant program emersion tours and or program assessment are available from Foodservice Solutions in Tacoma, WA.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Top 6 Grocerant Retailers for 2009.

Grocerant food retailers constantly redefining themselves are following the lead of consumers. This winning strategy is providing new opportunity for Convenience Stores, Grocery Stores, Supermarkets, Dollar Stores and Restaurants. The focus on retailers is to innovate with unique differentiated products, new trends in packaging, mobile coupons and self-checkout lanes, Seasonal LTO’s, utilization of Social Media leveraged with traditional media platforms. The on going focus is convenience, speed of service and bold flavors. Grocerant Ready-to-Eat and Ready-to-Heat prepared meal components are today’s solution to a fast home cooked meal. At one time these components were found only in urban delis or hot food line in grocery stores. Currently Grocerant food components are located in big box stores like Costco, Sam’s. In national grocery stores including Safeway, Kroger and regional players like A&P or Metropolitan Market. Most interesting is the components are now featured at Restaurants with “Take Away” or “Take Out” sections around the globe. The Grocerant niche has some legacy leaders like Eatzi’s and Boston Market each one time notable has lost it’s way for any number of reasons and may never return to there glory days. Today, having followed then leader from the past, the new Grocerant niche leaders have established a platform for success that will sustain the niche for many years to come. The top 6 Grocerant niche leaders for 2009 are:
1. Central Market
2. Wegmans
3. Harris Tetter
4. Rutters
5. Wawa
6. Sheetz
The Ready-to-eat and Ready-to-Heat grocerant niche accommodates today’s family in a style that is built for change. Is your company bundling for success? For more go information on the history of the Grocerant niche follow the first link to: or to learn more about Foodservice Solutions follow this link: .

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Restaurant chains are you trying to: Shrink your way to greatness?

Shrinking your way to greatness is Wall Streets way to rationalize continuing funneling money into restaurant concepts that have gone adrift in a world of there own making. Convenience Stores ones considered the outdated dinosaur of retailing have now transformed themselves into contemporize foodservice outlets. In fact in the Philadelphia - Delaware corridor Wawa is the third largest food retailer!
Convenience Stores and Grocery Stores have begun to sell ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared food that is better for you, portable packed with flavor and freshness. They simply took a page from the playbook of Restaurants added progressive innovation. Now they are wining the hearts and minds of the consumer. Many restaurant chains are saddled with the “we don’t do that attitude”; which is why they are languishing in a field of sameness. Fresh & Easy, 7 Eleven, Whole Foods, Sheetz, Central Market are breaking out by breaking out of the status quo. Restaurant chains that are simply trying to maintain the Status Quo, and utilizing Copy-Cat or Bandwagon Marketing my be shrinking themselves from greatness. There are clear reasons for what is happening. Grocerant program assessments available from Foodservice Solutions based in Tacoma, WA 253-759-7869.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Restaurant brand value 54 years in the making or is this new.

This week Sarah Lockyer wrote a piece in Nation’s Restaurant News about a study conducted in June of this year by The NPD Group. The piece did not mention “kids eat free” but is obviously the new state of the industry bandwagon marketing train that chain restaurants all have tried to board is: KIDS EAT FREE! Boring and outdated is what it truly is in addition to an industry embarrassment. The only thing innovative was watching how each chain spun the promo to investors telling them how little they would lose!
The Grocerant niche is growing because quality ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food is showing up in unexpected places, packaged and bundled for today’s consumer. Many restaurants clinging to past success or utilizing copy cat marketing techniques are losing customers too Grocery Stores, Convenience Stores and Mobile food Trucks. Recycling C-level executives that were successful during the hay-day of the restaurant industry by mimicking or following the niche leader will not work this time around.
Positioning drives sales! Let me quote directly from Sarah’s piece “When NPD asked consumers who have cut back on restaurant visits what would entice them to visit restaurants more often, they listed discounts, something free, more dollar menu items, choice of price offerings, and other cost management options. According to the study, most consumers wanted a price discount on a regular menu item over free items or 99-cent offerings.”
Most customers wanted price discount on a regular menu item! Pricing is one of the fundamental positions in the minds eye of the consumer. Lacking innovative new products then the consumer is fee to establish for the industry a new price paradigm. The price value service equilibrium is being reset by the consumer. Free is fleeting, positioning to win and innovation will sustain you going forward.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wawa: 21,000 reasons to look for work with a niche leader in foodservice!

I have written about Wawa, visited many a store and consider them one of the premier Convenience store chains in the United States. Wawa has some of the best Ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared food found in the Grocerant niche today! If I were to have a complaint about Wawa it would be the pace of opening new units and specifically they have none on the West Coast! We want Wawa too! Recently in his column online entitled, Birds Eye View by, Wawa CEO Howard Stoeckel discussed with pride discussed job opportunities for college students including graduate leadership opportunities, student loan forgiveness and internship programs. Here is a quote from his column:
“Participants in the Wawa College Graduate Leadership Program and Internship Program learn important managerial skills and can qualify for Wawa to pay up to $21,000 of their student loans. It’s a win-win: through these initiatives we in turn are able to recruit and train the best and brightest college students and, in doing so, foster the development of the next generation of Wawa leadership. Ultimately, this allows us to continue to provide the best possible service for our customers and make each of the one million daily transactions at our stores engaging and memorable.
If you or someone you know would be a good fit for our internship or leadership training programs, I encourage you to visit to learn more and to apply. Here’s to the most convenient future yet! “
I feel anyone interested in entering retail or foodservice should give consider thought to joining Wawa. They from what friends have Wawa employees have informed me have outstanding Medical, dental and pay that complements a level of professionalism in operations that is unparalleled in the foodservice sector. In the northeast you hear people say “I love my Wawa” they mean it and I am sure if you join there team you will say the same.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bandwagon marketing; what’s happening to Restaurant marketing?

Joel Cohen who writes:, in discussing discounting recently stated that “Discounting is the penalty you pay for being unremarkable. “ That got me to think about the four P’s of marketing. Price, Product, Place, and Promotion the four P’s are the framework that Brand managers and chain leaders can control, albeit limited to their ability and willingness. The objective is to make decisions that focus the four P’s on the consumer generating perceived value and ongoing relevance for the consumer i.e. building brand value and ongoing customer loyalty.
Recently we have witness within the restaurant industry Bandwagon or Copy-Cat marketing! For example Kids Eat Free! From companies like Fuddruckers, IHOP, Aura Restaurant Boston, Tropical Smoothie, Boston Market and even Holiday Inn. In both the long short run and long term Copy-Cat marketing is flatly UNREMARKABLE. Chain leaders might want to visit a local college this fall and drop in on a Marketing 101 class. The four P’s at one time contributed directly to the above mentioned company’s success and growth.
It’s disappointing witnessing chains focus on internal generated value points such as growth, new logos, uniforms or executive team members over the customers. Consumer are dynamic not static they are remarkable in how the evolve as loyal customers. When marketers are more worried about protecting the brand than following the customer’s sales lag, profit dip and customers wonder. Copping promo’s such as $1.00 cheeseburgers or kids eat free will never produce long term results. It’s no wonder that the Grocery and Convenience store sectors are garnering a larger share of the consumer’s food dollar more importantly growing share of stomach. Grocerant program assessments available from Foodservice Solutions based in Tacoma, WA 253-759-7869.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Papa Murphy’s wins 7th Consumer Choice Award in a row!

Over looked by the industry, but loved by the consumer! Papa Murphy’s is focused on the Ready-to-heat prepared food Grocerant niche. Restaurants & Institution's Annual Consumers' Choice in Chains survey was just released and for the 7th year in a row they have won within the Pizza Category. The customer moved first, Papa Murphy’s was there to help lead the way when consumer began the migration into the ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat Grocerant niche! Papa Murphy’s empowers the consumer with choice, quality and convenience!
Papa Murphy’s has for years been discounted as a competitor by Pizza industry leaders the likes of Pizza Hut and Papa Johns. With over 1000 unit open and more on the way, winning they category by 17.9 points in the R&I’s Consumer Choice they can be discounted no more. Papa Murphy’s reminds me of another industry leader that was discounted by competitors for years Subway. Now Subway is about to become the Global leader in Restaurant units open, surpassing even McDonalds.
John Barr, CEO at Papa Murphy's stated in and R&I piece “our customers want - quality pizza with the freshest ingredients at a great value.” I agree that is what they do, however living here in the northwest I have witnessed there focus on quality continue to improve, authentic freshness continues to evolve as does pricing for value. Papa Murphy’s understands the consumer is dynamic not static; they do not stand still. They continue to grow with the consumer, extending and propelling there success. This is yet another example of success within the Grocerant niche.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Demystifying of food in a channel open environment.

Consumers are delighted with the rapid qualitative changes occurring in the food industry. It’s all about the ability to get better food in ever channel of distribution; for the customer that means they get what ever they want when ever they want it! One example is: Convenience stores are migrating into quality fresh food and at and exciting pace! Grocery stores are increasing margins with ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared food that range from oven fresh pizza to deep fried fish and hot scallop salad and fresh baked bread sandwiches with hand carved meats!
Recently Convenience Store News held a Future Forum Virtual Trade Show just one of the many state of the art informational perks of the magazine. Here are some key takeaways provided by Mike Griswold of AMR Research and I quote” With the blurring of channels, the ability to buy similar products from multiple locations has never been greater” With unemployment lingering and the economy at a near standstill he stated “Retailers focusing only on process and cost will not survive in 2010”. Griswold said, “because many others are focusing on shoppers and looking for ways to take market share from the competition”. He continued “People are looking for small, close and easy on the wallet," Going forward the future of food retailing the focus will be where food is sold and how it is sold as appose to what type of food they are selling.
I have discussed many times in this blog that how people eat and where they eat is more important than what they eat. Restaurateurs focusing on “what they do” rather than what the customer is doing will have a very difficult future. I am convinced that we will see more and more unique mobile truck food operators and portable kiosk operations. Copy cat marketing and concept positioning that needs justification and rationalization upon rollout is neither innovative or productive over the long run.
Companies like who have both a famous product and brand must change. Here is one example of innovative change: Coca-Cola’s Coke's new Freestyle fountain drink dispenser capable of more than 100 beverage choices, which includes 30 RFID-chipped cartridges that contain highly concentrated flavorings. The flavors are so powerful that only a few drops go into each drink recipe. With Freestyle, "We're changing the consumer experience and the way we're marketing to consumers," stated Jean-Michel Ares from Coca Cola. Success does leave clues and Coca Cola is one company that is leading not following:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Grocerant niche is being prepared.

Grocerant Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food that has the ability to be portable is becoming the at home dinner selections of choice! O’ how things in the foodservice industry are changing. Remember the saying those who were last shall be first.

Prepared food Ready2-Eat is not exactly the gourmet food that Calvin Trillin was thinking about when he famously said “The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found." These new food components are exactly what your mother would have cooked if she new how! Now she does not need to know how, they are Ready-2-Eat!

The components of Grocerant ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared food are increasing in popularity because the are seen as:
1. Time savers
2. Bold in flavor
3. Portion appropriate
4. “better for you”
5. Cost saving
6. Bundling creatively and individually
7. Interactive and participatory

Like the Boy Scout Moto: Be Prepared; Grocerant components empower choice, and are ready to go when YOU are. Grocery stores, Convenience stores, Restaurants and many of ancillary points of distribution are focusing in the Grocerant niche.

 Success does leave clues outside eyes can deliver inside sales. Grocerant SWOT analysis are available from Foodservice Solutions®.  What are you bundling with you core products? Who are your customers?  Where and how can you sell your customers more? Do you need a Grocerant Scorecard?  or,  For A Quick Reply

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why Grocerants, why components, why portability as an option?

As long as multi-generational family’s gather for meals together, the demand for a more divergent flavors will continue to permeate. Grocerant style food offerings allow for increased family integration, understanding and acceptance.

Understanding the unique balance between palate, price, pleasure and the consumer’s drive for qualitative distinctive differentiated new food consumables places me in a select industry grouping. The food value proposition equilibrium for the consumer today balances; better for you, flavor, and traditional products all blended into something with a twist. In industry speak, differentiated does not mean different to the consumer it means familiar. That is where the Grocerant niche falls, it is consumer inspired, component driven and flavor familiar.

Understanding, creating or identifying distinctive differentiated food consumable’s as an entity with identity by day part in an area I excel. Outside eyes can bring new light and assist in your pace of concept growth, redevelopment and deployment of new products. Grocerant specialist can work with you to identify distinctive differentiated food consumables. 

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions has excelled in Marketing all things foodservice related, Culinary menu development & concept development, Training programs and progressive strategic alliances. From sous vide & cook chill to fresh ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared food is building momentum including fresh frozen. Assisting companies and people reach their goals is what we do best. 

Understanding the role food strategy positioning, and tactics with outside eyes can provide a platform for success. Success leaves clues; transformational times require focus and experience with a qualitative edge. Grocerants ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food, just might be the next step in your organizations success.

Foodservice Solutions based in Tacoma, WA understands why Grocerants, why components, why portability is an important option in foodservice today. 

Success does leave clues outside eyes can deliver inside sales. Grocerant SWOT analysis are available from Foodservice Solutions®.  What are you bundling with you core products? Who are your customers?  Where and how can you sell your customers more? Do you need a Grocerant Scorecard?  or or,  For A Quick Reply

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Richtree Market Restaurants Compelling Components

Recently I was contacted from a senior industry leader who went on and on about Richtree Market Restaurants. He called because he know that I blog about Grocerants, prepared food, quality ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat better for you portable food. My friend has a family of 6, and while traveling with his sons Hockey team he came across Richtree Market Restaurants. Highlights were the authentic freshness of the food. The visceral appeal of the food, he could not stop talking about. The international menu provided the ability to please everyone within the family. The ability to get food to tack back to the Hockey arena and hotel room, yes portable as well; can we say Grocerant again!
This fun filled restaurant is an advanced cross between the earliest Fuddruckers and Eatzi’s. Where consumer found bountiful displays of food, flavor, aroma and all were so interactive and participatory.
Filled with energy and innovation based on authentic global flavors this concept is a natural fit within the Grocerant niche. Richtree does not try to be all things to everyone but in fact tries to be truthful to the originating country or region of the world with regard to flavor and preparation. Located in Toronto Canada this is a success clue for many to watch. You can find out more about them at:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Did the Golden ear of the restaurant industry fad? The customer moved first!

This week in New York at RBC Capital Markets Consumer Conference leading restaurant executives were “bullish” that consumer changed purchasing food behavior would at some time end. That was there hope and slant to professional investors. The facts that they were expressing included the realization that consumers are eating out at restaurants less frequently, when they do dine out they order less expensive entrĂ©e’s and fewer alcoholic beverages. They talked of the good old days 2006 and 2007.
Here is what concerns me! 2005 was the first year in 25 that consumers shifted spending patterns on food and actually increased the percent spent on Grocery. During the previous 25 years there had be an increase per household on monies spent at restaurants each and every year. In fact in 2004 was the first year that the share of stomach in dollars spent tilted toward restaurants . Starting then in 2005 the 25 year trend has reversed and the dollars spent is now in favor of the Grocery sector firmly.
The economy did not start to fail until late 2007 and we all know what happened in 2008! Restaurateurs must acknowledge that they are part of the overall food industry and lacking innovation, promoting copy cat menu’s and dwindling service is not the way to grow a niche. Convenience stores new fresh prepared food offering and Supermarket quality, affordable prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat Grocerant style food is drawing consumers, providing choice, portion options and flavor profiles bundled for families from 1 to 20! Maybe there is a storm cloud over the restaurant industry, the customers moved first prior to the economic environment we find ourselves in today. The customers have found some sunshine in the Grocerant sector.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fresh & Easy is consumer empowering, enabling and efficient.

Fresh & Easy is becoming what Eatzi’s and Boston Market both wanted to become. That is the consumer’s first choice for ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat Grocerant food. The latter two both got stuck in a quagmire of their own creation and lost sight / focus of the customer. The both relented to metrics defined by Wall Street or industry niche and tried please the street with non relevant metrics. Now burden with the “Dallas foodservice leadership syndrome” a malaise and miss-guided tactics will not allow them to keep pace with solid consumer focused success steps seen from Tesco’s Fresh & Easy. This week Fresh & Easy is blasting the radio waves, billboards and bus stops with new advertising. The focus is on “low price, fresh ingredients” both of which resonate with the consumer.
Key to the success of Fresh & Easy is packaging size, meal components, many more ready-to-cook flavored meats, branded bread from il Fornaio and a blend of quality private label products. Tesco is a British company not burden with the copy cat mentality that seems to be over flowing in the US foodservice sector for the past 6 years. I think that Fresh & Easy with a consumer centric focus will not only do well but very well may lead a blended niche for years to come. The Grocerant niche is on the move. Program niche assessments include the Grocery, Convenience store, Restaurant, Supermarket sectors along with niche new comers.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Retail food chain store footprint paradigm is in flux, the move is for success.

7 Eleven announced plans to grow two years an ago with plans to open new units in the Northeast and West. What has been noted but not heralded was how? 7 Eleven has been a sleeping giant for the much of the past decade. Stuck in the confluence of the “Dallas foodservice leadership syndrome “; that’s where so many companies are headquarter and few new ideations have originated. There has been a revolving door of management leaders in Dallas, they leave one company and cross the street to another. The results of all are very similar, from footprint, menu, themes and service and margins both up & down. Investor are now getting beginning to see the pattern.
What has changed is 7 Eleven was acquired by a Japanese franchisee with outside eyes and plan that worked. Currently they are looking not just at opening new units but want locations run by franchisee of competitors! Converting competitors units into new 7 Elevens with proven operators, proven locations and track record of success. How long can it be that US based burger chains start doing the same thing? What if they offered, lower product cost of higher quality brand product, lower fee’s, higher ROI based on stronger brand value? 7 Eleven can boast of the quality of fresh food experience they have had in Asia and current new offering that will bring same on par with current leaders in the niche. In addition they are in test with fresh food product that reportedly are driving per unit sale up 30%. Yes, times they are a changing and what is changing is the gloves are coming off and franchisee’s are in play from Steak houses too Taco trucks and Fern bars too burger joints. What do you have to offer some one else? Restaurants, Grocery stores and Supermarkets in the middle of any niche are now in play

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Quality Service Cleanliness (QSC) & Quick Service Restaurants (QSR)

There is nothing linked more to QSR’s than Quality Service Cleanliness. It has been there from the beginning and you can hear the drum beat of Zone managers repeating the importance of QSC today. With continued reinforcement by Franchisee consultants and or district managers pages and pages of QSC questions fill the quarterly unit inspection compliance forms.

Angus Hamburger outlets like Quick Chek, Hoagie outlets like Wawa and Pizza outlets like 7 Eleven are all now focusing on QSC. According to an article in Convenience store news and I quote: “Cleanliness is the No. 1 reason consumers choose one convenience store over another, according to M/A/R/C,"

M/A/R/C found 32 percent of shoppers citing a clean, well-lit store environment as one factor that would most cause them to seek out or wish to visit a specific store.Convenience stores know the importance of Grocerant style food and are selling the heck out of it! 

Quality ready-to-eat and Ready-2-Heat prepared food is served in a setting of fast service, high quality and clean surroundings. Watch out QSR’s they just might be coming after your customer. Grocerant program assessments can help you build out the niche. 

Success does leave clues outside eyes can deliver inside sales. Grocerant SWOT analysis are available from Foodservice Solutions®.  What are you bundling with you core products? Who are your customers?  Where and how can you sell your customers more? Do you need a Grocerant Scorecard?  or or,  For A Quick Reply

Monday, September 14, 2009

Grocerants expanding the melting pot!

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.
Grocerants allow customers to select from Italian, French, Russian or Greek and utilize the components at home any way they like. The new American meal can be a composite of any prepared food components that the individual may want and they can mix and pair them any way as well. Our society is a composed for people from all over the world, with different cultures, traditions and flavor preferences. The new American meal is a melting pot of flavor and choice.
Prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat foods are now available for all comers and can be found at Convenience stores, Grocery stores, Restaurants, Mobile trucks all just waiting for the taking. Consumer have been exposed to a plethora of flavors and have not the time to master the skill of cooking each. This growing trend is empowering the consumer to establish new customs and traditions in eating better, more flavorful food. The Grocerant niche is about convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization. For a Grocerant program opportunity assessment contact Steve Johnson of Foodservice Solutions or leave a comment.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Grocerants because they are not burgers.

During the past 4 decades hamburgers drove sales and propelled the overall restaurant industry. Without a doubt the hamburger is now globally recognized as a penultimate American food. It is ready to eat, hand held and prepared to eat on the run; convenient, simple and affordable. Unfortunately the restaurant industry is showing a lack of innovation in new outlets or food products.
Might we have seen the tipping point now that, Bobby Flay, Emeril Legasse each have opened new gourmet burger restaurants. We have Wendy’s, McDonalds, Burger King, Sonic, In-N-Out Burger, and fast growing Fatburger, Smashburger and Five Guys with over 460 units.
Simple and affordable is also arriving at C-stores, Grocery stores, Supermarkets in the form of Grocerant prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat single and two person meals or meal components. The attraction here is it’s more than a “burger” the segment is filled with flavors from Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Greek, Japanese’s, and American fare.
Grocerants are about more choice for the consumer with items portioned for 1 or 2 people infused with traditional flavors known around the world which bring an added simplicity in serving. The innovation is in choice with items that range from: Fired Chicken, Asian Cappellini, Spaghetti & Meatballs to Chicken Pad Thai Noodle or a Reuben Chicken Breast.
While the hamburger may rule the day in the Restaurant industry, consumers are finding flavor in the Grocerant sector.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Europe warms up to the idea of Grocerants.

Recently Morrison’s stores after witnessing first hand the success with authentic fresh foods sold in smaller locations announced that they may begin rolling out “minisupermarkets”. The idea is to cram the units with more fresh fruit, produce, prepared foods and bakery items. They are looking at this after seeing an explosion to the upside in sales up 50% from former Co-op and Somerfield’s outlets which they acquired.
Prior to this Morrison’s had stayed away from “convenience stores”. With a smaller footprint and a focus on high quality food packaged for one or two people these new units’ sales are may be the path to continue profitable growth. Over the last two years, Morrison’s has won an extra 1 million weekly customers, bringing the total to 10 million. Traditionally consumers typically had perceived it as a bit of a discount chain, now rate the quality of its food and service more highly than other major grocers.
Safeway is a major investor in Morrison’s and the lessons learned may reflect additional development of the “lifestyle stores” here in the US. Yes, the Grocerant niche is hot and growing fast in C-stores, Restaurants, Grocery stores and Dollar Stores, Mobile Food Trucks and Kiosk.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Gluten-Free foods long term trend or Fad?

Americans have focused on gluten-free foods on and off for the past six years and we have witnessed both the rise and fall of one of the most popular drivers the Atkins Diet, another is the South Beach Diet. There is a revolving door of fads that are associated to popular diets. The Gluten-Free trend is one of them. The Grocerant sector focusing on prepared ready to eat and ready to heat foods will not see an abundance of focus on the Gluten-Free. The food focus will be on fresh and authentic and portable.
The market for gluten-free foods and beverages has been up in recent times. Other than diets the growth has largely been attributed to more frequent diagnosis of celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder with symptoms triggered by gluten, the protein in grains like wheat, barley and rye. Roughly 40,000 to 60,000 people have been diagnosed with the disease in the US, although the federal government estimates that there could be as many as 3 million who are undiagnosed – or just under one percent of the population with the under counted. I do not see Gluten-free going away but as a stable trend, I do not think so. I believe that it will rise and fall and rise again.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Consumers prefer food that can be portable.

Differentiation does not mean different, it means familiar in prepared food and foodservice. Consumers young and old are demanding more choice in flavors, portion size and packaging. Today that means they look for the choice of food at different times in different locations or points of distribution. Prepared food that is ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat and with the option of portability or grocerant style food can be found in Supermarkets, Restaurants, Dollar stores, Convenience stores on mobile trucks and Kiosk.
Why people eat, when they eat is paramount to where and what they will eat, all of these options are changing as the time starved consumer has a plethora of choice. More and more consumers of all ages are looking for food with fewer calories, less fat or bolder flavors packaged in portions for one or two and they want them with less packaging. Positioning consumer friendly options directly for the consumer is always a win-win. Only in America do consumers want to eat their way thin. The confluence of these issues is striking, the overlap is most interesting. It appears to me that all of these issues / trends are growing and will contribute to the build out of a new and significant food niche. Just one of the over lapping hot button trends is better for you foods. Consumers are utilizing new tools to identify, quantify and qualify where and what they will eat. Here are three websites that have become popular:
If your not currently cross positioning your product or menu in these new and exciting avenues of information or distribution. It might be time to think about.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Food price value equilibrium continues it’s resetting?

George Bernard Shaw said, “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” There is no greater gift that customers that love your food, and will pay for it-but at what price? The consumer does not understand or belive in channel blurring. Channel blurring is only in the minds eye of the Brand Marketer. Here is my formula for establishing customer focused price:
Price + Quality + Service + Portability = Value
Incremental Value = Constantly Changing Menu (Seasonally / Sustainability with creditability).
Now, lets look at what is happening at different companies, price and channel of distribution are clearly challenging each other this is about share of stomach. While Subway started the focus on the $5 foot-long we can see just where it has gone.
1. T.G. I. Fridays announced it will offer Jack Daniel's® Burgers and Jack Daniel's® Chicken Sandwiches for $5 and will offer $5 off all Jack Daniel's® Grill entrees for a limited time at approximately 600 US based participating restaurants.
2. Steve Davis, Arby’s CMO said $5 has become a magic number for fast food.
3. Shane’s Rib Shack has a family meal (feeds 4) for $20. Part of Petrus Brands
4. Popeye’s now as value meals from $1.99 & $2.99
5. McDonalds has three mini meals for under $3.00
The economy continues in a quagmire so price can be a determining factor. Brand marketers must be aware of the new product and price points that non-traditional competitive channels will introduce. Including attractive packaging, new product bundling options which in turn will contribute to establishing new long term price value models going forward. Watch just what is happening in the Grocerant niche via Grocery stores, Convenience Stores, Mobile trucks and Kiosks food outlets or follow this blog. Join me on

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What is in a family meal today?

Can food research companies unravel what is today’s traditional family meal? What a quagmire we find ourselves in today trying to understand what is a family meal. I recently went looking for answers from some of the food industry leading research companies. Each has a series of benchmark studies all “best in class” yet seems to answer or categorize only what product consumers are eating, when they are eating. Yet none could address what we found have witnessed or hear of as the “new family meal paradigm”. Here are three examples of which we have seen first hand:
1. Single family dinner occasions with meal components from McDonalds & Taco Time for children 14 years olds and dinner for adults from Whole foods prepared meal section. This is dinner, is it a family meal. We say yes since they all eat together.
2. During a recent visit to NYC after a meeting we went to a business associates home ordered food in. His wife, myself and him, we ordered from three separate companies (Italian Chinese, Greek) one was pickup next door. I was assured this was not unusual in their household.
3. Studies on Take & Bake pizza show it is the sole food item only 60% of the time. Generally complemented with prepared food from other outlets, who can we find out what and from where?
Statistical analyst can track each of the sales, but do we get a clear picture of the family meal. We are in search of examples, stories, or case studies on new “defined” household units and what they eat and when. Please submit your example to Is Grocerant food the food that binds the family?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Relax with Labor Day food.

While summer still has two weeks left in it. Labor Day is a holiday in the US, and I for one will be spending time in my garden picking tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and beans. Then with family and friends coming over we will enjoy the fresh tastes of the summer season including Mom’s Apple pie. If your out and about there are restaurants, Kiosk grocery stores filled with prepared fresh seasonal offerings and Grocerant style food. Enjoy today and eat well.