Monday, September 16, 2013

Back to School time to Cook from Scratch Not this September.

Harkin back to when you were young. When going back-to- school meant new clothing and the house smelling happy while you did your homework.  Dinner today comes from grocerant Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.  Today grocerant meal components are blurring the line between restaurants and grocery stores. Grocerant foods target the time-starved consumers, not with ingredients to make from scratch rather with Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat food components that can be bundled into a meal.
Just think about how you shop for most meal preparation needs. You might buy a rotisserie chicken, pick out something from a salad bar and maybe an appetizer at the deli service case. Those are components vs. buying uncooked chicken, a head of lettuce and then having to clean, cut, season and then season and spend time cooking.
Steven Johnson, is the Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solution® and defines the niche this way "Grocerant means any retail food item that is Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food and is most cases considered “better for you”. Currently these items can be found in grocery stores in the deli / lifestyle section, 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 and now at Chain Drug Stores Walgreens and Duane Reade."

What is Driving the Grocerant Trend Rapid Growth?
Its 4 PM: your customers are just beginning to think about what's for dinner.  81% of American consumers are unsure about what's for dinner at 1:00PM and  62% are still unsure at 4PM. Time Starved Consumers are looking for high quality Ready-2-Eat foods and Heat-N-Eat meals. Today's time starved consumer want to purchase meal components that they can bundle into a customized family meal that will please everyone without spending time cooking.
Examples of Grocerants
Restaurant examples are McDonalds, Pret A Manger Burger King, Pizza Hut, Papa Murphy's and Starbucks, each having a fresh ready-2-eat or heat-N-eat food menu. You may not think of Walgreens as a food destination yet Walgreens sells fresh soft-serve yogurt, coffee and sushi at selected stores, so they are technically grocerants. In the Casual Dining sector Maggiano's Little Italy offers a buy one take a 2nd home for free in their Classic Pastas menu section.
Convenience Store examples are 7 Eleven, Wawa, Sheetz and QuickChek, all of which sell fresh and prepared sandwiches, salads, beverages.

Supermarket examples are Whole Foods, Central Market, Safeway and Kroger… all sell fresh prepared chicken, salads, sandwiches and most offer sushi and beverages.
Drug Store examples are Walgreen and Duane Reade both offer in both New York and ChicagoSushi, Smoothie, Wine, Coffee, and Fro-yo Bars in what they are now calling Walgreens Up Market.  
The retail supermarket and convenience store sector have unique grocerant challenges. Presentation of the Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh food is important. When you get a meal at a restaurant, the plate and the food look great… let's call this "food for now". Retailers are primarily selling "food for later" or take-out and unless an item is a sandwich, the looks of Ready-2-Eat meals and snacks begin to change.
Why is it so hard to package food to go? In the Hot food section of the grocery store the food in most cases does not look appealing so our expectations drop when we get it for Take-Away. In convenience stores like Wawa, the ready to eat food looks great in the to-go containers. Why? Because Wawa puts the entire bundled package together. They exert more control on the look and feel of "food for later".
Around the world we are now seeing sections in department's stores and kiosk in malls in Europe and Asia and airports around the world. The items can range from entrees to side items and deserts. Some examples of items range from fried chicken, mash potatoes, cream spinach, to liver and onions, pizza, hot dogs, steak, prime rib, various casseroles (hot-dish) to salads, side salads pie, cake and any single proportioned deserts. They can be picked up at the specific unit, or delivered.
In summary, a Grocerant is a result of the blurring of the line between restaurants and grocery stores aimed at the time-starved consumer with Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat food components that can be bundled into a meal. With new non-traditional points of distribution and retail food competition opening daily, consumer have more choice in meals and meal component options.
For more information on Grocerant Guru Steven Johnson, or Foodservice Solutions visit

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