Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ready-2-Eat Fresh Prepared Food Drives Retail Success

Last week when Greencore CEO Patrick Coveney delivered the third quarter sales numbers no one was surprised to see sales were up again 7.5 percent.  What did have the industry talking was that Greencore sales in the United Sates of fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food Jacksonville, Florida operating unit were up 16.9%. 

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ Steven Johnson said “Greencore’s focus on fresh prepared food is perfectly positioned.  Greencore’s two top preforming clients are industry sector leaders, Starbucks, and 7-Eleven.  Each are posting year over year same store sales much higher than their peers.”

Currently the sales of fresh packed sandwiches, salads, sushi, and deserts are drivers for Greencore who sells in the United Kingdom and the United States and both countries are experiencing unprecedented growth according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™.  Coveney noted that Greencore currently sells in the UK and US “450 Million food to-go products a year”.

Success does leave clues and the Grocerant niche filled Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food is the one retail food sector that is booming worldwide. Greencore is but one company that is selling Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.  That 450 million products sold,  is a solid base for one company and a 450 reasons others will be following soon.

Foodservice Solutions® specializes the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Fresh Prepared Food niche aka the Grocerant niche.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Retail Food Paradigm Is Evolving Fast

Are you watching Restaurant Start-Up, The Food Network or other Food Reality Shows? If not they are driving more viewers to their shows than ever all watching new 65 inch HDTV’s.   One show after another new Food programing continues to prove successful for CNN, CNBC and Cable channels all. What is even clearer is that consumers do not want to cook!

They love to watch Food cooking on TV, learning about food on TV; but most people do not know how to cook beyond the basics.  In fact research shows most do not want to cook and do not want to clean a kitchen. Have you noticed new retailers the ilk of Hello Fresh and Plated?  They are driving change in how consumers buy fresh food.

Tesco a global force in food retail has research, refined, revised its expansion plans to include restaurants in existing British stores. If a food retailer today wants to be successful 10 years from now they will have to sell food differently.  When Tesco bought up-market fast food restaurant Giraffe, it signaled they want to maintain and grow share of stomach over share of retail grocery.

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ says “Consumers today assemble meals they do not cook from scratch.”  They are migrating to convenience stores the ilk of Wawa, Sheetz, Rutter’s and 7 Eleven to same both time and money. Tesco has stores around the world and it is not just in the U.S. that this is happening but everywhere and Tesco knows it.

With consumers buying fewer and fewer food ingredients the need for large format grocery stores of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s has pasted. Whole Foods only builds 30,000 Sq. stores today and most of the space is allotted to ready-2-eat fresh prepared food. Earlier this year we talked about General Mills testing direct meal delivery leveraging their brand Betty Crocker. How are you selling food today? How will you be selling it 10 years from now?  specializes in global outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.  Contact: for a Grocerant Scorecard, Program Assessment or Vertically Integrated Marketing Program leveraging the 5 P’s of Food Marketing.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Does Red Lobster Have a Second Act?

Recycling executives from brand to brand and without a change in strategy may not be the success solution Red Lobster needs in 2014. What was once a successful strategy during the 1980’s and 1990’s recycling executive simply does not work in 2014 in most cases. Stacking food on the plate is a ploy not a tactic or strategy. 

Look around you noticed that Kodak is nearly out of business. Growing up in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, every family had a Kodak Camera and I still have one of mine. Those yellow boxes were everywhere and getting your very own Kodachrome camera was seemingly a rite of passage, heck, Paul Simon even wrote a song about it.

As digital cameras gained popularity, Kodak stuck to what they believed. They sneered at digital’s quality, righteous in their knowledge that Americans would NEVER give up shiny pictures for their photo albums.

Today, cell phone cameras take most of the pictures and they are rarely printed. Kodak will shut the doors, correct in their assertion that professionally developed pictures look better than low-resolution versions uploaded to Facebook.

Being dead and correct is not a great strategy.  Today chain restaurants are either growing or dying much the same as Kodak. Simply look at restaurants that filed bankruptcy of late: Claim Jumper, Mr. Pita, Friendly’s, Chevys, Sbarro, Perkins.  They are not all dead but they have been far from right. Red Lobster needs a second act not another chance.

These are statements frequently heard from legacy restaurant operators. Like Kodak, crystal clear that what has always worked will continue to work.

• Our executives have 30 years of experience and know how to run the business.
• We never use coupons, nor do we deliver.
• We don’t allow our brand to wander, we protect our brand.
• We don’t use online ordering, I-pad ordering or voice screen ordering.
• We don’t advertise on Google, Twitter or Facebook.
• We don’t open for breakfast.
• We like the umbrella approach each store different personality but under one umbrella.
• Video menus and video signage is visceral gimmickry.
• We don’t measure ingredients, we create daily specials and simply show employees how to make it
• We can’t raise our menu prices.

How did a dominant brand and sector leader like Kodak, in a rock-solid consumer staple lose everything? Simple, they determined the market, the direction of that market and took the steps to conquer it.  If that sounds like your restaurant, retail food sector or niche leader, you better keep reading.

There is little about today’s market, the consumer or food marketing / promotions that was predictable 3 years ago. In the next three years the rate of change will continue to increase. So let’s look at the above list:

Reliability and a comfortable working relationship is correctly a key to success.  However, if you find your team is blaming the economy, minimum wages increases, cost of health care and rising food cost for disappointing results. Do not forget that many restaurants companies are growing both the top and bottom line, number of units and garnering market share.  Did Red Lobster say any of that?  If so it might be time for Outside Eyes. 

We always/never use coupons – coupons and promotions are very complicated today. Add the online aggregators the ilk of Livingsocial and Groupon and how can you know what works. Here is the point, what you measure you manage. All advertising must have an objective that is clear and measurable to insure a proper marketing ROI. Is stacking food on the plate a tactic that will drive sales or is it a positioning ploy of the 1990’s? Will Hello Fresh or Plated take share from Red Lobster?

We don’t deliver – face it, convenience is a driving reason why foodservice is popular. If you do not want to deliver, consider outsourcing.  Delivery is not about you. That’s right it is about the consumer. Does Red Lobster have a strategy for dealing with Munchery?  Foodservice Solutions® does.

We protect the value of our brand and its integrity for the consumer, our shareholders and stakeholders.  We know the consumer is dynamic not static, but our customer’s comeback because we have a brand promise and they trust in us to keep that promise. Sounds a lot like Kodak, don’t you think?

We don’t use online ordering our food does not “carry” well.  Think about this if you don’t have a way to connect your menu to computers and mobile devices, your competition will woo your customers. Consumers are time starved, and hooked on technology, make it easy.

Five years ago Google or Facebook – as above, set up a Facebook page, it costs nothing. Have someone help if you need it and then monitor your page 5 minutes a day.  Today there is so much more. Is Red Lobster ready?

We don’t open for breakfast – you pay rent 24/7, find ways to increase the utilization of your “factory”. Considering catering or school lunch program, contract out your kitchen.  Don’t become the next Kodak of chain restaurants. In two years will Red Lobster more restaurants open or fewer?

Different store brands / personalities under one large corporation and all expected to operate utilizing a uniform set of metrics.  Worked well in the 70’s, 80’s but you have the answer.  Let me know just how well that works out.

Visceral gimmickry does not replace high quality food and great service ever.  Who defines quality service? You your brand promise or the consumer?

We don’t measure ingredients; my employees know how much to use – why have menu prices, let customer pay whatever they want. If you don’t care what your product costs, you CAN’T make money.
We can’t raise our menu prices – tell that to the gas station owner on the corner, or the farmer growing your food. Costs are up, you must raise your menu prices or you will not exist. That one we understand is underway.

Kodak management, smart and hard working as they were, did not see the world changing, fortunately you do. Realize that change is good and necessary. Act now to challenge your assumption, create new revenue streams and increase profits.  Success does leave clues, Disney movies leave you with a smile, being dead and correct is not a great strategy.  Does Red Lobster have a second act? We think so if actions reflect consumer relevance of today not yesterday.

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? Email us at: or visit: for more information.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Is ‘Smart Money’ Betting Big that Restaurants Aren’t Needed ?

Back in the day the old adage was ‘follow the smart money’ and you will find success. Foodservice Solutions® team has been inundated with queries from chain restaurant operators and technology companies on the undercurrents and sea change in consumer acceptance, adoption of non-traditional fresh food outlets, and the role of technology-marketing-messaging.

In an Omni-channel cross-channel retail world simply doing what you have always done and doing it the same way does not work. Why are they calling us?  Simple we sold, placed the first 7 restaurant national accounts for On-line ordering in 1991 and continue working with innovating companies and products.

Today, the ‘smart money’ is focused on consumers and fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Grocerant Niche food.  Once again Foodservice Solutions® is at the center of the action having identified, quantified, and qualified the fastest growing sector of all retail foodservice the Grocerant Niche filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food. So just what is ‘Smart Money’ today?

Here is how Taylor Soper of GeekWire explains smart money today: “Back in 2011, when Scott Stanford and Shervin Pishevar led separate investments in Uber’s $37 million Series B round back in 2011, fellow investors and other friends scoffed .“Why are you guys investing in a limo company?” the naysayers asked… Today Uber is now operating in 128 cities and valued at $18 billion, Stanford and Pishevar went on to start a venture capital firm called Sherpa Ventures. One of their first big bets was a $28 million Series B round that Sherpa led in a San Francisco-based food delivery startup called Munchery.”

Munchery makes the meals themselves and delivers them within in one hour.  There is an ever increasing number of ‘smart money’ venture-backed startups the ilk of  Munchery,  which is now at $40 million raised; Caviar, $15 million raised; Spoonrocket, $13.5 million raised all are similar to Uber and Lyft in that they’re using technology to improve a service that restaurants have not used or refuse to try.  Regular readers of this blog know we highlighted our 20-20 that’s 20 technology companies plus in the last year and 20 non-traditional fresh food retailers alone. The fresh food marketplace is evolving fast.

Now $28 Million would build how many Papa Murphy’s? How many Chipotle’s? How may Smashburger’s? In an Omni-channel cross-channel retail world the questions becomes: Why build a restaurant? Why hire, train, and maintain a staff when technology can edify the experience for less and do it faster?

Note: (Its simple consumers like restaurants they are not going away. However don’t get me wrong they will diminish in numbers, volume per unit, and value. They will look much different in the future,  they will smaller but they be here.) 

Technology Once a Friend of Restaurants Now a Foe

Sherpa Ventures co-founder Scott Stanford said “When you introduce something like Uber or Munchery, you change the paradigm with not only how that service or product is consumed, but how it is provided,”…. “If you can change the underlying economics of that delivery platform or that value chain, it puts you in a really interesting position from a financial perspective.”

When Red Lobster opens a new restaurant in 2014 they do it very much the same way they did 46 years ago?  Sure an up-dated menu, d├ęcor, and messaging but the business model has not been updated. Red Lobster and maybe your company’s business model might just look more like yesterday’s business model than tomorrow’s business model. Legacy hedge funds are buying into companies the ilk of Bennigans, Sbarro, and Taco Del Mar all are here. Are these companies the past, present, or future of Food Retail?

Soper went on to say “Similar to how Uber and Lyft let consumers hail a ride by pushing a few buttons on their smartphones, Munchery and others are doing the same for food delivery. It’s part of a growing trend of companies that, thanks to smartphone technology, are providing efficient and innovative on-demand services. “Consumer expectation has changed as a result of greater connectivity,” Stanford said. “When you think about what the Internet did to media and changed consumer expectation and requirements, the same thing is happening to commerce.” 

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ believes that companies the ilk of Lish, Peached, Spoonrocket, and Munchery will not only survive they with thrive for they provide “authenticity in being local, personal, while providing fast service.”  There is a new retail food business model unfolding today that model is mobile; it is creating disequilibrium for restaurateurs and reorganization or bankruptcy for others.
Consumer adoption of mobile and non-traditional retail food platforms has created discontinuity for Chevy’s Fresh Mex, Buffets, Round Table Pizza, Fuddruckers and Red Lobster to name but a few.

The Informational Superhighway is fast becoming a Mobile Neighborhood

Lish CEO Aakhil Fardeen stated: “Customers care about having a variety of the highest quality food, timely delivery, and a delightful ordering experience at an affordable price,” “Chefs also get really excited about the opportunity that Lish offers them. It gives them an avenue to make extra money — about two or three times what a restaurant job pays them per hour. They love the ability to get direct customer exposure, develop a following, and ultimately to build their brand in the community.”

Are restaurants dead no, they are however becoming very expensive to own and operate. Red Lobster is but one example. Yesterday’s business model is not the future of the restaurant business. Opening the same restaurant brand the same way you did 40 years ago does not work.  Companies the ilk of Starbucks that have evolved from coffee house to food merchant have consumer relevance and have successfully evolved with technology as well.

The food space is exciting it is dynamic not static.  The food sector is a market that is huge and too large to be consider just one market place for sure. The ‘smart money’ is today focusing on technology to bring customized, personalized, fresh prepared food to you for less. There are companies targeting the high-end, middle, low-end markets, each offering staples the ilk of Burgers, Pizza, Mexican, Sushi, Thai, Chinese, and Italian  to name but a few. 

This is becoming a land grab for share of stomach without the cost of the land.  Think about it Americans spend $151 on food each week.  With technology today consumers never have to leave home, or work and can eat with or without cooking, or doing the dishes. Does your restaurant have ‘braggability’? Without braggability why would anyone come to your restaurant? Do you know how to create ‘braggability? We Do.

From Hand Held Food to Hand Held Food Ordering

“The takeout and delivery market today is estimated to between $70-to-$100 billion today, and a small fraction of these orders happen online today even fewer on mobile devise.  ‘Smart Money’ is considering how frequently people purchase food and how technology can improve the way people get food, you start realizing why entrepreneurs and investors are simply funneling money into the Grocerant Niche opportunity.

In our Omni-channel retail world there can and will be many winners particularly in the food space.  The competitive force driving change /adoption today is the consumer.  The retailers that succeed with have a blended balance of efficient technology, fresh flavorful food, and the ability to deliver that food to your office or home in minutes, not hours or days and an integrated brand marketing messaging with relevance.

Restaurant Customer Migration Can Be Stopped

Starbucks and Chipotle each do three things better than almost any other company they continue to evolve with smaller units, faster service, maintain authenticity.  Has your company completed one of Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Niche Assessments or a Grocerant Scorecard?

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? Email us at: or visit: for more information.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Grocery stores, C-stores, and Restaurants All Benefit

From Canada to Mexico retailers are readjusting their product mix in order to court younger customers, maintain market share, and increase sales productivity.  Walmart’s express format C-store works.  It may have been late to the game but Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food drives sales.
In Canada Loblaw has been seeing customers embrace fresh food, specifically on perishables and foodservice prepared food across all Loblaw’s store formats. In turn they are expanding Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food all outlets including its discount brands. Grocerant Niche fresh prepared food drives retail food sales success today according to Foodservice Solutions® GrocerantGuru™.

In the Convenience Store News 2014 Foodservice Study theyfound:

1.       Fully 81 percent of the c-store operators predict an increase in their foodservice sales.
2.       Fully 63.5 percent of all respondents anticipating that their foodservice profits will grow in 2014 compared to 2013.
3.       Three-quarters of c-stores opt for proprietary programs vs. branded.
4.       Foodservice promotions, via coupons, social media, loyalty programs and more, increased industrywide by a third over the past year.
5.       Nearly two-thirds of responding operators said they offer customer seating in-store alongside their foodservice selection, and approximately one-quarter provide outdoor seating.
6.       Take-home, heat-and-eat dinner solutions are offered by 30.5 percent of retailers.
7.       The lunch daypart is still bringing in the largest share of foodservice sales for c-stores (30.3 percent), but the breakfast daypart is not far behind (26.4 percent).

Technomic found restaurateurs need to pay attention to Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food as well. More important it’s the much sought after Millennial customer driving adoption of grocerant niche products.  Restaurants in a tight battle for share of stomach must court this group or risk excluding a generation of customers. In Mexico Oxxo's the  fast growing C-store  retailer opened a net 348 new stores in Q2, to reach 1,189 with same store sales continuing to post positive results. A Technomic infographic reflecting Millennial purchase preferences can be see below. 

Success does leave clues many can be found within your Grocerant Niche Scorecard. The Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food space is getting crowed.  Is your company prepared to extend your brand to Millennials? Do you understand the undercurrents of change in the retail food space today? Call Foodservice Solutions® to get your Grocerant Scorecard at: 1-253-759-7869.

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way?  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? Email us at: or visit: for more information.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dollar Stores Want to Sell Fresh Food For Less than Your Grocer

Consumer’s ongoing battle for time and money can be viewed in retail within the Dollar store sector.  Take Dollar General for example with 11,120 locations in the US alone in 2013 they had more stores than Walmart, Kroger, Target combined.  America is shopping at Dollar General. 
The Dollar store sector began selling milk, eggs, with success and now has begun to test Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food with great success. Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ is not surprised stating “consumers have been flocking to the dollar sector for years and that sectors growth record alone indicates they are selling what the customers want.  Today consumers want Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food why would dollar stores not sell it?”  
The fact that 50% of United States residents over the age of 18 are single has been a driving factor in this sectors successful positioning according to Steven Johnson the Grocerant Guru. Manufactures including legacy giants the ilk of General Mills and start-ups like vegan mayo maker Hampton Creek see the numbers are targeting products to sell within the dollar store sector.  General Mills Vice President Shawn O’Grady said recently “Here, we market our products in smaller package sizes—perfect for one- and two-person households—which include many of the 55-year-old-plus consumers,” 
Fresh Food manufactures have taken notice and have been calling Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ for product positioning, pricing and messaging assistance.  We are convinced that around the country the introduction of new Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food offering will soon contribute to the continued success of the dollar store sector.

Are a legacy food manufacture trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way? Is it time that you look at Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food? Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Call 253-759-7869 for your Grocerant Scorecard or Email us at: or visit: for more information.

Friday, July 25, 2014

IFMA it’s time Technomic’s Ron Paul receive a Golden Plate Award.

Ron Paul standing tall in Retail Foodservice for nearly five decades and continues to be the speaker of choice for many national and international food industry conferences. If success leaves clues Ron Paul Founder, CEO, and President of Technomic has left many for all of us to follow.  Technomic continues to provide information services, consulting, tutelage too retail food manufactures, chain restaurants, food marketing companies, equipment manufactures, and Grocerant Niche companies. Congratulations Ron!  

When it comes to understanding the big picture, Ron is the best.  From food industry manufactures too defining every niche in the restaurant industry.  Ron understands the relationships and the how to assist each focus on the consumer.  His contributions have contributed to the success of more companies than I can count.

Ron Paul is an industry supplier of Fact Based information that has help drive QSR sales alone from 2 billion when he started to over 125 billion today. IFMA, it’s time Technomic’s  Ron Paul receive a Golden Plate Award for Supplier of the Year.

While Ron and Technomic were early to focus on the Home Meal Replacement niche industry focus shifted so did Technomic’s focus . However with his tutelage, encouragement and prompting I dug in and thus evolved the Grocerant Niche, my practice. Success does leave clues and if being a gentleman, a professional and are not enough Ron Paul is a friend to many in our industry and that is a clue to his success.

Since 1991 retail food consultancy  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Foodservice Solutions® Email:, 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fresh To Order “Fine Food Fast”

In our Omni-channel retail world one young company is doing many things right.  That company is Fresh To OrderTheir slogan is “Fine Food Fast”.  With most stores located in the Southeastern United States they strive to serve the freshest, finest, food in the Southeast.  We think they the halo of better fresher food, fast service in light attractive setting will propel them from the south through-out the United States.

Fresh To Order or F2O for short is tapping into the customer focused ‘better for you’ Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food Grocerant Niche success sweeping the country and growing around the world.  They have utilize all but focused on two of Foodservice Solutions® 5 P’s of Food Marketing Price and Portability to drive additional contemporized relevance

F2O believes that customers will notice with “all their senses the freshness and quality of every ingredient that they put into our products from our lettuces and vegetables to our proteins and sauces, soups, teas and coffees. They taste and look different and better because they are. Sure it costs us more, but we trust that our guests will notice that we are a different and fresher alternative in dining; this in turn makes our investment in our products worthwhile”.

Giving their messaging added contemporary relevance is the fact that from the beginning they integrated both Online Ordering and Catering programs into the marketing messaging.  F2O understands that consumers today are dynamic not static, they want to buy, consume and enjoy their meals when and where they choose.

‘Fine Food Fast’ can be found in all items including their new bison burger. Jesse Gideon, Fresh To Order’s COO and corporate chef. “Our burgers go beyond what you would typically expect, from both a nutritional profile and the bold flavor combinations.”
The F2O bison burger is made with ground bison, dried cherries, and a few trade secrets, and served with baby field greens, horseradish aioli, and caramelized onions, the burger clocks in at less than 600 calories. It comes with a fresh salad and toppings for only $10.90. That’s bold, flavorful and priced perfectly for ‘fine food fast’.

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way.  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? via Email us at: or visit: for more information

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Are Whole Foods and Publix Ready To Team Up?

Better for you fresh prepared food is driving success in every sector of retail foodservice today. Whole Foods is clearly the industry national leader.  Every other grocer would love to sell Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat prepared food the like Whole Foods. Is Whole Foods for sale?
Safeway, King Kullen, Publix and Kroger are positioned squarely in the middle of the grocery / supermarket sector in the United States. That is one place no company can thrive in todays bifurcated marketplace. While each retailer does a good job for what it is doing today. They may not be enough for it’s not about offerings, operations, or new openings the consumer is dynamic not static the industry is evolving faster than most middle of the road retailers.
Simply put there is no lasting opportunity being stuck in the middle. While each offers Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food they are not doing with enough quality differentiation for consumers to notice. On the Legacy CPG side they are simply put Stuck in the Middle.
We don’t need to look far away for examples of what may be on the horizon for these legacy companies that are in quagmire of their own making. This year middle of the road grocery retailers in Great Britain are experiencing a uniquely challenging environment complicated with unwanted declining sales.
Both Tesco and Morrisons are capitulating market share due to management strategies that put them in the middle of the grocery sector in Great Britain. Here is what’s bad, they are capitulating share to Lodi and Aldi each known as ‘discounters”.
Nielsen found In the 12 weeks to 24 May 2014 that Aldi and Lidl continued to outperform in the U.K. market with sales increases of 33% and 22% respectively. Along with Waitrose, they are still gaining market share.
In the United States Aldi is no stranger today Aldi has 1,275+ outlets. They are the fastest growing grocer in the United States. Like the U.K. Publix has discounted companies the ilk of WinCo and Aldi that continue to garner market share everywhere they open. WinCo had increased the size, quality, and positioning of its Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat offering providing additional points of consumer differentiation.
With a bifurcated food marketplace growing even clearer being stuck in the middle is not a good thing. Companies the ilk of Whole Foods, Wegmans, and Metropolitan Market are positioned opposite Aldi and WinCo and will do fine. Others will have to migrate from the middle leveraging Grocerant Niche tactics to elevate and educate brand positioning. Should Publix buy Whole Foods and move into Up-Market Fresh Prepared Grocerant Niche ‘Better for You’ food? Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ says ‘What other choice do they have!”

Steven Johnson is Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based  with extensive experience as a multi-unit operator, consultant and brand/product positioning. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chipotle has ‘Braggability’ Grocerant Niche ‘Braggability’

Chipotle from the start set a goal not be like all other fast food outlets.  They knew doing things the same old way would at best only get the same old results.  Once again a Founder and CEO Steve Ells proved ‘better for you’ food that is portable is valued by customers and cherished by Wall Street.  On the Conference Call Ellis reveled that fully 2/3’s of all sales are To-Go! That’s Grocerant niche Focus Grocerant Success.

When Chipotle reported second quarter same-store sales for restaurants open at least one year recorded an increase of 17.3% for  2014 compared to the second quarter of 2013 everyone took notice.   Most restaurant chains would be very pleased to post numbers even one-quarter of that amount But they don’t!
How did Chipotle that do?  Simple a focus on Foodservice Solutions® 5 P’s of Food Marketing specifically Portability.
Today Chipotle stock is expected to reach nearly to $650.00 a share once again reaffirming that the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food niche is booming.  No gimmicks at Chipotle, No Waffle Tacos.  No Pretzel Burgers simply a focus on “better for you” fresh food for Carryout, Take-Away, To-Go.
Is Chipotle the model for industry success?  We think so, as do Millennials who are attracted by its healthier food offerings and relatively modest prices.  And the chain, increasingly, has pushed its catering business, too. In an Omni-channel retail world Portability (Carryout, Take-Away, To-Go) is a key driver opening up new avenues of distribution.
With two new concepts both focused on Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared that is ‘better for you’ food this company may be leading the grocerant niche success for years.  The new concepts are ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen restaurants.  They are doing very well and many call the concept a hit a hit.  The latest Chipolte concept making a name for its self is in the design-it-yourself pizza arena called Pizzeria Locale it is customer focused, interactive and participatory.

Success does leave clues and Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared foods that are ‘better for you” are a very strong clue. Foodservice Solutions® specializes the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Fresh Prepared Food niche aka the Grocerant niche.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy

Monday, July 21, 2014

Don’t Have Time to Cook from Scratch Visit a Grocerant

So what is a Grocerant?  Foodservice Solutions® Steven Johnson, the Grocerant Guru™ says this "Grocerant means any retail food item that is Ready2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat. Traditionally these items can be found in grocery stores in the deli / lifestyle section, C-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."
When I say retailer, it is broadly defining supermarkets, mass drug merchants, C-Stores (convenience stores) and fast food or fast casual restaurants.
What is Driving the Grocerant Trend

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. Time Starved Consumers are looking for high quality ready to eat foods and ready to heat 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.
The retail supermarket and convenience store sector have unique grocerant challenges. Presentation of the ready to eat or ready to heat 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-2-Eat food looks great in the to-go containers. Why?  Simple Wawa puts the entire 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 fresh prepared food components that can be bundled into a meal.

Foodservice Solutions® specializes the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Fresh Prepared Food niche aka the Grocerant niche.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Is McDonalds Food Delivery Ready for a U.S. Rollout?

Pizza is the lifeblood of home delivery food in the United States, however McDonalds sales per store are three times higher on average than Pizza Hut and McDonalds is where America loves to eat. The question is when will McDonalds delivery service rollout nationally in the US? 

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ Steven Johnson thinks sooner than later stating “McDonalds has been testing delivery for several years and seems to have figured it out with the rollout of delivery in Australia.

Southeast Asia has been the primary testing grounds for McDonalds delivery including the following countries:
  1. Hong Kong
  2. Signapore
  3. Philippines
  4. Australia
The Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food niche aka the Grocerant Niche is a perfect fit for McDonalds.  Leaders lead and McDonalds understands that the customer is dynamic not static and on the move.  Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ Steven Johnson stated “McDonalds stop practicing Brand Protectionism long ago and that is one major key reason they have exceed globally and will continue.  McDonalds understands that you cannot do what you have always done and stay relevant.”

McDelivery works like most food delivery service.  There is a minimum order amount depending on country but they seem to range from $15 to $25 dollars, the delivery radius is 1.5 miles of the McDonald’s , most test area allow for both weekday, and weekend delivery and are open until 11PM at night.

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way.  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? via Email us at: or visit: for more information.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Munchery Non-Traditional Retail but Very Fresh Food

With $32 million raised Munchery would hardly called a stat-up by legacy restaurateurs or even many chains. However in the technology space that’s exactly what they are.  This company has been tested in San Francisco, is well funded by the likes Yelp co-founder Russel Simmons, and Yammer co-founder David Sacks and set to expand.

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru Steven Johnson says “Differentiation does not mean different it means familiar with a twist.”   Munchery has that twist.   It makes all the food itself, rather than delivering food cooked by other restaurants.

Munchery has its own kitchen that’s where in house chefs prepare new meals each weekday.  In addition they partner with independent chefs who make meals in their own kitchen expanding menu choice and offerings.

Taylor Soper of  Geekwire described the functionally this way: “Customers can browse through the company’s website, check out what’s on the daily menu and order food to be delivered in the evening either on the same day or later in the week. There is also an on-demand option that allows people to have food at their doorsteps within 20 to 40 minutes.”…

“Another unique aspect of Munchery is that all meals are delivered chilled and are designed to be heated up in either a microwave or oven, if needed. This allows the startup to make food ahead of time and gives customers the option of eating a hot meal at their convenience.”

Here’s a breakdown of how much everything cost Soper when he ordered:
·         Crab cakes $9.95
·         Chili lime beef $9.95
·         Green salad $4.95
·         Wonton soup $6.95
·         Strawberry cake $5.95

Note: Munchery charges a $2.95 delivery fee — you can also get free delivery on all orders for $39/year — so with tax, our order came out around $40.

Munchery is currently available in the San Francisco bay area and these limited zip codes in Seattle: 98101, 98104, 98121, 98122, 98144, 98154, 98164, and 98174.

Foodservice Solutions® specializes the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Fresh Prepared Food niche aka the Grocerant niche.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.

Friday, July 18, 2014

100 Million Dollars, 10 Competitors and 1 Drone: Reasons Not to Open a Restaurant

Love to cook, create, and have a burning desire to sell fresh prepared food? There just might be a better way to make money in the restaurant industry without opening a restaurant? Have you been wondering where the money is to open a new restaurant? Are you ready to sell fresh prepared food?
100 Million Dollars
Techcrunch recently reported that Caviar  a new food delivery start-up is in talks to sell it-self to square for $100 Million Dollars. Simply put restaurant / foodservice start-up cash is migrating to technology start-up’s in a big way. Food customers today are Onmi-channel shoppers today.
 Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™  stated “Restaurant customer counts continue flat or down overall for the restaurant sector over the past four plus years.  One big reason is technology.  Legacy chain restaurants once leading customers with new forms / formats of service, food, and packaging have been reluctant to invest in or leverage technologies that are evolving with consumers.”
Inside the 4 Walls
Many legacy restaurant operators seemingly have a “inside the four walls” mindset coupled with brand protectionism polices more reminiscent of the 1980’s than 2014. Steven Johnson the Grocerant Guru™ says that kind of thinking traps a brand in a quagmire or a footprint malaise that is unresponsive and simply not consumer relevant today.
Customer relevance today can be found at the intersection of Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food, mobile technology, and the 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome.  Brand managers must look beyond the 4 walls, they must not practice brand protectionism.  Brand managers that spend too much time looking back will end up with a brand selling to yesterday’s customers today not today’s customers tomorrow.
Non-Traditional Fresh Food Retailers Leverage Technology

Differentiation means familiar not different. Restaurants are under attack not only from technology start-ups but from Non-traditional fresh prepared food retailers eager to skim customers from the QSR sector who offerings seems more a reflection of the past than the present.
Success from non-traditional retailers the ilk of Wawa who has invested over $650 Million dollars in Florida to build-out a new market focusing on its legendary fresh prepared customized Hoggies. Then there is Sheetz a fast growing chain with its focus on quality Made-to-Order fresh food. RaceTrac is opening a model with even greater emphasis fresh food targeting the fast food sector.
There is a reason that 7-Eleven is the world’s largest food chain they are selling more and more fresh food, leverage technology with consumer relevance while garner attention with free food Give-A-Way’s. 7-Eleven is a very tough competitor. 7-Eleven has found technology that is relevant is not always easy.  However Foodservice Solutions® team thinks they are doing lots of things right and will garner a much larger share of stomach.
Drone Food Delivery

Entrepreneurs are seeking fame and fortune targeting anyone who eats.  That my friends is all of us.  It’s a huge market.  Phil Romano a serial entrepreneur and food merchant extraordinaire who brought us Fuddruckers, Eatzi’s and Potato Flats to name but a few of his concepts clearly was inspiration for many.
That brings us to Amazon.  Entrepreneurs ask how can we do something better, faster and cheaper.  There are few merchants better at that than Amazon.  Amazon wants to start flying their drones, becoming fast flying true food delivery business reducing labor cost, saving time and more attention and customers than any restaurant company to-date. The Amazon service working name has been Amazon Spotlight while Foodservice Solutions® regularly blogs about Amazon fresh food we think no company can discount Amazon’s ability to do what others dare not even dream.
New Fast Food may be Technology Driven
Is your restaurant Full Service, Fast Casual or Fast Food company prepared to compete? Are you positioned for yesterday’s customer today or are you positioned for today’s customer tomorrow? Here check out these well funded start-ups looking to eat your lunch, dinner and breakfast.  You might want to call Foodservice Solutions® for ideations, positioning or brand edification. 
Kitchen Surfing    
Delivery Lean      
Bite Squad          
Spoon Rocket     
Amazon Spotlight

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing the same way.  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? via Email us at: or visit: for more information.