Friday, March 31, 2017

Grocerant Offerings Save Darden’s Olive Garden

Regular readers of this blog know that Darden copied Maggiano’s Little Italy’s “Today and Tomorrow” grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food offering.  They also know that Darden started and stopped its copied version called buy one take one then restarted it without copying Maggiano’s “Marco Meal for Two”.  Once Darden refocused the grocerant niche they began expanding sales.  

Remember in retail the old adage the trend is your friend and the grocerant niche customer adoption in every sector of food retail is a trend with no end in-sight according to Foodservice Solutions® team. One thing is clear that is it’s working for Olive Garden as year over year same-store sales increased 1.4 percent in the period.  That by the way is the 10th straight quarter of growth for Olive Garden and for a company in the middle of the casual dining sector that’s a big deal!

The facts are clear according to Olive Gardens CEO Gene Lee who stated “Olive Garden's to-go business is up 17% and 60% on three-year basis.  The fact is as Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® says “success does leave clues” and up 60% in three years is a sector of business you want to capitalize on.”  

Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food that can be Mixed and Matched then bundled into a customized, personalized family meal continues to drive retail success in every sector of retail foodservice today.  Maggiano’s Little Italy’s only mistake was thinking they could not out-perform Olive Garden after Olive Garden copied them.  They were wrong Maggiano’s Little Italy’s has a qualitative point of differentiation in the minds-eye of the consumer.  

So, can Darden do more than copy marketing positioning?  Do they need to?  One thing is sure the team at Foodservice Solutions® continues to be busy helping retailers edify their brand offering with Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru’s FIVE P’s of Food Marketing

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Johnson, or

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Yummy Neighborhood Market Simply a ‘Better Experience’

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson likes to say that “Success does leave clues” in the case of the customers have spoken and it’s consumers that are driving the success at these local grocery stores.  Simply put give the customers what they want and they will come back for more and that is exactly what is doing focusing on ‘better, faster, fresher’. 

Barnaby Montgomery, co-founder of,  stated  “good enough” value proposition won't get you success with online grocery. Your total value proposition has to be “better than” what the competition is offering because it's only way to attract the volume of sales needed to support the online business.

Now with six-outlet grocery stores in Southern California has processed more than 2.5 million orders; it owns and operates its entire business, including stores, trucks, etc.; and it has never raised a dollar of outside capital. In fact Yummy has funded its growth entirely from the profits of the business.  Yes, success does leave clues. is all about the Price, Value, Service Equilibrium.  At its core’s value proposition is the promise to deliver online orders in about 30 minutes, but speedy delivery isn’t the whole story. The Yummy value proposition includes making the experience “better than a trip to the store.” Barnaby is fond of saying that most of his customers don’t want grocery delivery - they want a better experience.

Guided with the understanding that customer expectations will continue to change, continuous improvement is needed to maintain the promise of a shopping experience that’s “truly better than the competition.”  Yummy sells grocerant niche fresh prepared food that is easily Mixed and Matched with legacy basic CPG items that can complement any meal period.  

Delivery, pick-up, or walk-in is focused on today’s customer always evolving so that they can be prepared for tomorrow’s customers.  Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food has become the foundation for new avenues of food distribution.  is the global leader in grocerant niche business development.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities.  Has your company had a Grocerant ScoreCard completed?  Want one?  Call 253-759-7869 Email:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Restaurant sector Stifled by Falling Grocery Stores Prices

Retail foodservice disequilibrium continues to grow.   Restaurants and legacy chain restaurant in particularly continue too capitulate customers via year over year customer counts as menu prices rise, labor cost & benefits rise, and grocery store prices fall.  All the while the convenience store sector is expanding the number of locations, adding grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food garnering customers from both grocery stores and restaurants as consumers are in search of What’s for dinner

Complicating the situation, the US Agriculture Department's, Economic Research Service reports “Prices of supermarket items declined 1.3% last year, compared to the year before that was the first annual decline since 1967.”  While that is good news for consumers discounters the ilk of Aldi, WinCo, and Lidle are positioned to capture a larger share of stomach than 2017 & 2018 as food prices fall, and competition increasing causing incremental consternation at retailers the ilk of Walmart, Albertsons, and Kroger. 

Chain restaurants the ilk of Pizza Hut, Famous Dave’s, Five Pie Pizza, Ruby Tuesday, and Jamba Juice are but a few that have come under increasing pressure to stop the customer count declines, drive top line sale, and bottom line profits. 

What is driving the new competitive pricing food items including Beef, Pork, Chicken, and Eggs according to the USDA, agricultural exports dropped by $17 billion or approximately 11% between 2014 and 2015 alone. Plus new low cost retail competitors Aldi & Lidl

According to Bill Bishop chief architect of Brick Meets Click “Hard discounters Aldi and Lidl between them will steal significant share of U.S. food retail sales in coming years, but their influence will exceed their reach.  This will continue to increase the competitive threat for restaurants and legacy grocers according to our own Grocerant Guru®

Bishop projected the German discounters would combine for annual sales in a range of $53 billion to $67 billion, and operate around 3,500 U.S. stores (2,500 Aldi, 1,000 Lidl) by 2021. While doing so they will force existing competitors to confront what makes them different — particularly their low-cost infrastructure, and the spirit of innovation and competition between them that is fueling their growth.

Let’s face it that $53 Billion to $67 Billion will have to come from other retailers?  Without customer relevant grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food differentiation restaurants and legacy grocery stores are in for a very difficult five years.  Are you ready for Outside Eyes?
Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Johnson, or

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Doc Popcorn Rolling Out First PopTruck

What’s faster than a cross country semi on an interstate running late, a bullet train in Europe, or a two year old on a sidewalk as soon as you take your eye of him?  Ah the answer is popcorn popping in a food truck and customers smelling freshness and lining up.  

You guessed it Doc Popcorn, the world’s largest popcorn franchise retailer, as figured that out is currently rolling out its first PopTruck.  Building a brand and loyal followers in an Omni-Channel retail world is a lot of hard work but Doc Popcorn is doing a lot of the right things with its PopTruck.
Twin Cities proprietor Bill Bentz, just happens to owns and operates the Mall of America Doc Popcorn location with his wife and two daughters, is spearheading the brand’s first foray into the food truck industry.

News reports stated that “The PopTruck, essentially a store on wheels, offers a variety of Doc Popcorn’s gourmet popcorn flavors and craft sodas. In addition, it will offer frozen lemonade in the summer, and locally roasted coffee and hot chocolate during cooler months. The new food truck model allows the Mall of America Doc Popcorn location to mobilize and be an active community business.”

In addition “The PopTruck is available for local reservations such as corporate/employee events, customer/student appreciation days, civic celebrations/events, sports tournaments, graduations, weddings and other celebrations.”

Bentz stated “At our Mall of America location, I never tire of seeing kids’ excitement over popcorn,” …“With my eldest daughter taking over the management of my Doc Popcorn store in the mall, I wanted to find a way to expand the business and stay connected to my customers. The PopTruck is an opportunity for me to spread happiness and smiles all over the Twin Cities community.”

Multi-channel is important today.  Rob Israel, founder of Doc Popcorn and ‘Big Pop  explained that  the PopTruck brings Doc Popcorn into the fastest-growing segment in foodservice. The food truck industry has increased 12.4 percent over the past five years and is expected to reach $2.7 billion this year.

Israel continued “Bill’s PopTruck is an exciting opportunity for our brand to test the food truck model,” …“Bill came to us with the idea and we co-created the concept. The PopTruck is the first of its kind for Doc Popcorn, so we’re excited to see how it’s received in the Twin Cities and determine if others in our franchise family may also benefit.”

Positioning is so important according to our own Grocerant Guru® noting that  popcorn is considered a “better-for-you snacking option”, Doc Popcorn creates its own proprietary flavor blends using high quality ingredients free of trans fat, MSG, artificial colors and preservatives. Gourmet popcorn flavors include Klassic Kettle, Sinfully Cinnamon, Triple White Cheddar, Sweet Butter, Cheesy Cheddar, Better Butter, Caramel Kettle, Hoppin’ Jalapeno, Salt-n-Pepper, and can be mixed and matched for a variety. Are you expanding your brand? 

For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact:  the Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. Visit: for more information