Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Will consumers remain loyal to supermarkets for affordable food?

Consumers lifestyles habits are more focused on where to go, what to do when they get there and who to do it with. Than baking bread from scratch, roasting a 5lb roast for Sunday dinner and utilizing the left-over’s for lunch the following week.

George Bernard Shaw said, “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” But cook cooking from scratch is not a requirement; for our love affair with food too continue. Consumer consumption patterns and lifestyles continue to evolve, the grocery store must as well.

Stores stocking the shelves with food ingredients for the cook from scratch cook are loosing ground in the battle for the consumer. Food Manufactures paying retail operators slotting fee’s and excessive trade allowances were great for building business in the 70’s & 80’s even for maintaining volume into the 90’s.

Consumers today want fresh prepared, better for you food in portion sizes for one or two people. This simple and well documented trend is garnering attention in new channels of distribution. Particularly in retail drug stores channel, including Duane Reed, Walgreens and CVS. Hotels like the Grand Hyatt in New York City recently opened a specialty food shop selling fresh pastries, salads and hot meals to go. Hampton Inn offers a “free” hot breakfast but if your in a hurry they offer a free prepackaged “brown bag” meal to go. Ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food is a mainstay of the retail foodservice today.

Convenience stores are expanding nation wide with fresh prepared food products. Following the success of Sheetz and Wawa with outstanding fresh prepared food driving frequency and top line sales. Now 7 Eleven is entering the mix with what can only be described as a huge leap into fresh prepared foods.

One grocery store stands alone in revitalizing sales and profits with fresh prepared food as a complement to shelves loaded with ingredients. That is Whole Foods. Whole Foods implementation of prepared food stations in and around the stores has provided a platform for consumer choice; a solution for simplicity, all the while educating and elevating the consumer about food. If success leaves clues, this is one of them.

Will consumers remain loyal to supermarkets for affordable food? Not if they do not evolve and fast by adding increased offerings of grocerant style ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared food that is “better for you”.

Foodservice Solutions specializes in outsourced business development; we can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities and brand leveraging integration strategy. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson.


  1. Very interesting post that reflects the current food trends brightly. Allow me to add the observation that the points you make are not only true for the US but as well for Europe and even...for France. That sounds somewhat unbelievable yet it's true. As a Paris-based journalist I've seen a lot of traditional butcher shops going down only to be replaced by fashion boutiques (that's the worst case) or by "Subway"-branches (ok, THAT's the worst case).
    In Europe we're not yet where the US food market already is: Here, the strongest trend still is high quality frozen food (with the French "Picard" chain as the benchmark enterprise).
    On the other hand: The financial crisis could bring back cooking from scratch...

  2. Thank you for your comment. Yes, there is a lot going on right now. These are dynamic times in the food industry.