Thursday, January 13, 2011

Walgreens stumbles with fresh food.

Greg Wasson CEO of Walgreens goal to evolve Walgreens from a “retail drugstore to a retail ‘health and living store” was embraced by the retail industry and store managers.

Walgreens history is steeped in a retail food background, I for one was first to tout their successful re-entry into fresh and prepared food. Wasson’s goal of a “health and living store” has been postponed due in large part by miss steps within his fresh food program.

The fresh food team has let the team chain down. It’s clear from the current results this team does not understand that the grocerant niche is about convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization.

While the rest of the retailing world is accelerating growth within the ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat grocerant niche, Walgreens is pausing. Walgreens has now scaled back the rollout plan. Originally I was informed that they would roll-out the program in 3,000 stores by the fall of 2011. Now it they are looking at 300- 500 units instead.

Merchandising missteps, product mix ups, in store placement all have contributed to excessive amounts of food being thrown out on a daily basis at the store level. The grocerant niche is about fresh and prepared food ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat. Legacy retail category & merchandising managers may not be the best suited industry professionals to lead such an promising program.

Blending Café W with fresh and prepared food is a natural success step to future program success. I suggest that they utilize Foodservice Solutions® 5 P’s of food marketing: Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price. Then they will experience strong sales growth as they roll out an integrated grocerant food program with distinctive differentiated food consumables as an entity with identity by day part.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. For product or brand positioning assistance contact Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions® or visit or on Facebook at Steven Johnson, BING / GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants or


  1. Wallgreens is the armpit of drug stores, say no more.

  2. Personally I like Walgreens and what they are doing. Walgreens direction is in-line with consumer’s food buying patterns. Their internal strategy needs some updated research and re-positioning but many companies stumble a bit prior to a major break-out.

  3. Walgreen's started out telling suppliers "quality is paramount." Then they said "we can't sell anything over $5.99." Then it was $4.99, $3.99 and finally 99 cents. The food went from interesting to generic, and the better suppliers fell away.

    Garbage in, garbage out.

  4. One of their primary suppliers is Flying know the folks who make all that yummy airline food! 'Nuff said...