Saturday, January 31, 2015

Food Price and Portion Size Garner Customers Attention

Sixty Six percent of Americans say the snack between meals in 2014. Call it will you will, small meals, snacking, gap-meals, price-points, or fill-ups consumers are electing to drive food retail frequency numbers increasingly looking for a meal substitute. 

In a new Packaged Facts study found eating less was better for you and restaurants agree. The study found that “Restaurant menu innovation clearly acknowledges the blurring of traditional mealtimes in favor of snacking and smaller meals.” 

Packaged Facts found that “a snack is often viewed as a healthier alternative to an entire meal; snacks cost less than typical entrees, appealing to cost-conscious patrons; and snacks are suitable for today's 24/7 on-the-go consumers, who are less inclined to plan their day around traditional mealtimes.”
Packaged Facts identifies five trends at play in marketing menu items as being a viable snack or shareable innovation:
  1. Mini items. Smaller versions of entrées and classic menu items remain at the forefront of snack/small plate menu innovation.
  2. Bites. Bite-sized items help restaurant-goers balance indulgence with moderation. Bite-sized menu item innovation caters to a range of "poppable" savory eats.
  3. Sliders. While sliders have become an appetizer menu stalwart, they have also branched well beyond the confines of the burger.
  4. Sampler platters. Sampler platters allow more customers to get greater variety while managing their cost per party. And restaurant operators can showcase their signature items in the bargain. Modernizing sampler platters translates to customizable options, signature items and creative sauces.
  5. Shareable items. While sampler platters are designed for sharing and often promoted as such, restaurant operators are also positioning regular menu items as "shareable."  specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify, and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities. Are you ready for a Menu ScoreCard or Grocerant Niche Scorecard? If so contact:

Friday, January 30, 2015

What is the Future of Supermarket Success

Dine-In or Take-Out Fresh Prepared Food is Key. Growing grocery grocerant niche success is one success clues no supermarket operator can overlook while consumers are still price-conscious.  Today, consumers desire for time savings, money savings, and flavorful Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food is ingrained in shopping behavior according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™.

In a recent study by Acosta Sales & Marketing, found that foodservice continues to be a growth category for grocery retailers, and one that by most accounts is here for the long haul. Acosta found that “In the past year, nearly three-quarters of supermarket consumers have taken home and eaten prepared foods from the grocery store, and more than half have consumed such items in their markets’ dining areas.”

Mark Hayden, president of Acosta Foodservice for the Jacksonville, Fla.-based marketing consultancy stated “I believe there is tremendous opportunity for grocery stores to shift from the historical ingredient/component approach we have seen for many years,” 

Much of the research was from “The Why? Behind The Dine, a July 2014 survey of 1,500 U.S. foodservice consumers, conducted in partnership with Chicago-based Technomic, indicates that consumers view retail foodservice as a convenient opportunity for them to grab a meal for themselves or the entire family. Indeed, lines have blurred to create the “grocerant” — grocery store as restaurant — where ready-to-eat meals have been a major growth area.”

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ had but one thing to add “ I agree”. It’s quite flattering when industry competitors mimic our work with ilk niche results.   For leading insights and outside eyes within the Grocerant Niche contact the source Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru at: 253-759-7869

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Vitamin Shoppe Now ‘Better for You’ Fresh Food Too

Ikea can do it, Walgreens can do it, Pinkies Liquor Stores can do it and, so ca you!  Yes, non-traditional fresh food retailers are entering the Grocerant niche filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meals and meal components one after the other and you can too.  

Successful retailers that listen to their customers evolve the halo of the brand with the customers are sure to find on-going success according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™.  That is just what Vitamin Shoppe is doing by adding prepared food in it’s retail locations in an effort to meet customers demand for ‘better for you’ fresh prepared food. 

The North Bergen-based retailer Vitamin Shoppe Inc., “as part of an effort to broaden its sales reach beyond vitamin supplements, is testing sales of prepared, refrigerated calorie-controlled meals in 10 stores, including three in North Jersey.”… 

“Refrigerator walls containing prepared foods have been added at Vitamin Shoppe stores in Paramus, Wayne and Little Falls. The company picked stores in New Jersey and New York for the trial run because of their proximity to company headquarters.”

The calorie-controlled meals offering meal components the ilk of vegetable lasagna, Paleo barbecued pork and chickpea and quinoa salads were co-created and are prepared by the California-based healthy meals company Fitzee Foods at a commercial kitchen on Long Island.

The Vitamin Shoppe, with more than 700 stores nationwide goal os to broaden our customers' view of us, and get them looking at us more as a health and wellness brand," said Doug Jones, senior vice president of merchandising. 

The meals offered are portioned in single-serving containers and marked with calorie and nutritional information. Each stores is stocked with 17 menu items, including breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings, with entrees priced at $6.99 to $8.99, and salads costing $5.99. 

"We really tried to build the menu to appeal to a large customer base," Jones said. "We've got some ethnic food — Thai, Indian, Italian — as well as vegetarian and gluten and dairy-free options." The meals, he said, "are all-natural and very clean, with no added preservatives. There are no ingredients you won't be able to pronounce." 

Are you ready to Grow? Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a grocerant program assessment, grocerant scorecard, brand, or product placement assistance.  Since 1991  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

C- Stores Bundling Meals Find Success

Fresh prepared food mix and match meal bundling is a key driver for the success found within the C-store sector.  The C-store sector has just about doubled in size over the last three decades. At year-end 1984, the store count was 85,300 stores, at year-end 1994 the store count was 98,200 stores and at year-end 2004 the store count was 138,205 stores. 

Evolving customers drive change and Sheetz is a great company to follow if you looking for success. Sheetz formerly a C-store now a “convenient restaurant” and Wawa once a C-store now a “fast casual To-Go” outlet have grown same store sales focusing on selling fresh food meal components customers can mix and match into a personalized or customized family meals. 

So when The NPD Group reported, approximately 70 percent of consumers won't try new menu items, in a new report, Menu Item Trial: Motivating First-Time and Repeat Orders. Convenience store operators were not surprised. Their success has come from bundling consumer favorites, offering an extended set of fresh prepared food product offerings that restaurants simply can’t compete with today. 

NPD also reported that of consumers 30 percent are "early adopters," of new menu items and only “17 percent will order a brand-new item and 10 percent will try a limited-time offer item.”  Having many more items in both the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared category provides a platform for trial and flavor profile innovation. 

Bonnie Riggs, NPD's restaurant analyst stated  "In addition, stimulating menu-item trial and delivering a satisfying experience should lead to repeat visits and sustained customer loyalty."
The convenience sector has been stimulating menu-item trail and innovation in multiple categories of Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh at an ever increasing rate. That innovation has proven successful as the conveniences sector continues to increase Same Store Sales at a rate much higher than the restaurant sector.   specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Johnson, or

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Future of the Family Dinner Has Arrived

The future of the family dinner can be found within the Grocerant Niche. So what is a Grocerant? Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru says this "Grocerant means any retail food item that is Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat  prepared fresh. The word Grocerant is a result of the blurring of the line between restaurants and grocery stores.
In reality a grocerant is where a consumer can find fresh prepared food aimed at the time-starved consumer with Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meals or meal components that can be bundled into a meal and or packaged for Take-Out, Take-Away, or To-Go.
Today, grocerant meals and meal components are found in liquor stores, drug-stores (Walgreens), fast food restaurants, fast casual restaurants, full-service restaurants, and restaurants inside grocery stores, in legacy “deli” departments, furniture stores (Ikea), club stores (Costco) and clothing stores from Tommy Bahama, Macy’s, and Nordstrom’s.  
 When the  Grocerant Guru say’s retailer, it is broadly defining supermarkets, mass drug merchants, C-Stores (convenience stores), Furniture stores, Club Stores, Clothing retailers and fast food , fast casual restaurants and full service restaurants selling fresh prepared food, and restaurant meals and meal components sold TO-GO or delivery.
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 wants to purchase meal components that they can bundle into a customized family meal that will please everyone without spending time cooking.

Most consumers may traditionally think these items can be or are 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. The retail industry has expanded and is evolving to keep up with the demands of consumers desire to save time, improve quality, increase family flavor profile, while enabling personalization and family meal customization.
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 fresh prepared food. 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, Olive Garden, Chili’s, Boston Market and Denny’s.  That is to name but a few.

Drug Store examples Walgreens as a food destination yet Walgreens sells fresh soft-serve yogurt, coffee, sandwiches, salads  and sushi at selected stores, so they are technically grocerants.

Convenience Store examples are 7 Eleven, Wawa, Sheetz, Sheetz, and QuickChek, all of which sell fresh and prepared sandwiches, salads, beverages.

Clothing Stores Tommy Bahama, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Brooks Brothers all have or are planning restaurants selling fresh prepared food in-store. Fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food is garnering consumer favor in this sector.  Expect to find more and more clothing retailers entering the grocerant niche.

Furniture Stores & Liquor Store example Ikea sells over $ 2 Billion a year in Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food in its stores (mostly meatballs-mash potatoes), Pinkies in San Angelo, Texas this past holiday season even offered complete fresh prepared full Turkey Dinners will all of the traditional side orders.  All of the fresh prepared food is prepared on site and sold To-Go. 
Supermarket examples are Whole Foods, Trader-Joes, Central Market, and Wegmans sell fresh prepared chicken, salads, sandwiches and most offer sushi and beverages. Many are now opening in-store restaurants including fast food, full service sit down and bars all offer fresh prepared To-Go as well.
The retail supermarket and convenience store sector have unique grocerant challenges. Presentation of the Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared 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". Many legacy 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. That may be one reason that many grocery stores are continue to open restaurants or “food courts” selling made to order fresh sandwiches or Chinese take-out.  In convenience stores like Wawa, the Ready-2-Eat food looks great in the To-Go containers. Why? Because Wawa puts the entire consumer food 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.
Visit:  if you are 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 or you can learn more at Johnson, or