Monday, August 31, 2020

Grocerant Niche Fresh Food Fuels Foodservice Growth and Packaging Sales

Demographics continue to drive change in everything we do.  The change in population mix including fewer married couples, more people living alone, smaller household size and multi-generational households each are creating new opportunities for food retailers and packaging companies.
Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® is constantly asked why is the Grocerant niche filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food driving change in every aspect of the retail food space? Demographics are changing Gen Z, and Millennials spend more often on food than any other demographic in the U.S.
Packaged Facts in an importnat report on food and beverage packaging entitled Food and Beverage Packaging Innovation in the U.S.: Consumer Perspectives, published by Packaged Facts outlined five key drives shaping packaging.

The five drivers are:
1. Targeting Millennials: While millennials may seem like a broad and amorphous target, numerous studies show there are some commonalities. Millennials like fresh, less processed foods, as demonstrated by their preference for “fast casual restaurants that offer freshly prepared foods, and shopping the perimeter of grocery stores where fresh and non-packaged foods can be found.”
2. Smaller Packages are a Big Trend in Packaging: With one- or two-person households representing 61 percent of all U.S. households, packages sized to serve one or two people have become a big trend in packaging. Such formats include single-serve packaging, meals for two, multi-packs of individual portions, and resealable packaging. The rise in smaller-footprint stores is also influencing this trend.
3. Packaging for Convenience: Convenience is a major selling point for food and beverage packaging. Features such as ease of opening, re-seal-ability, portability, lighter weight, and no-mess dispensing are packaging benefits that influence consumers’ purchasing decisions positively.

4. See-Thru Packaging Can Boost Sales: More and more marketers are putting their products in packages that are see-thru or have see-thru windows. Transparency in packaging taps into consumer desire for transparency about how food and beverages are produced, both figuratively and literally. Companies that are transparent about their ingredients, sourcing, and business practices are reaping the benefits in consumer goodwill and trust.
5. Eco-Friendly Packaging Growing: In the past few years, single-serve bottled water has come under attack by environmentalists as epitomizing the wasteful nature of modern society. As a result, some marketers of bottled water have stepped up their introductions of more sustainable packaging. Likewise, Packaged Facts believes that improved recyclability and sustainability will become ever more important to the success of the single-cup brew market — if not a cost of entry — as this business matures. In the past two years, several American and Canadian marketers have introduced more environmentally friendly designs for use in K-Cup brewers.
Success does lave clues and have the right packaging helps drive success.  The Grocerant niche filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food will continue to drive change in all areas of retail food service.  Do you know where most meals are consumed? Where are you selling meals?
Are you ready for a Grocerant niche program assessment? Grocerant Scorecard? Outside eyes can drive top line sales and bottom line profits.  Visit:  or reach out to our own Grocerant Guru®, Steve Johnson today for success clues at: 253-759-7869

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Einstein Bros. Bagels Following Customer Migration

Regular readers of this blog know that the consumer is dynamic not static and when the customer moves you have to move with them. Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® stated “consumer relevance requires a keen focus on all relevant consumer touchpoints including which channel they are spending more money today.
Einstein Bros. Bagels is going to be opening its first-ever convenience store locations through a five-store development deal with Spring, Texas-based King Fuel. All of the planned stores will be located in the Houston metro area.
The first c-store is projected to open in September at 15605 Aldine Westfield Road, followed by the November opening of a store at 108 W. Green Road. Both stores are located in Houston.
King Fuel locations are optimized for c-stores and will serve as a smaller version of the classic Einstein Bros. Bagels bakeries. They will offer a simplified, easier-to-operate breakfast platform while still delivering a culinary and convenient customer experience, which will drive branded food sales of Einstein Bros.

Nick Schaefer, senior vice president, Bagel Brands Development, Einstein Bros. Bagels stated, "We're witnessing more consumers looking to c-stores as morning destinations and the demand for bakery and breakfast products continue to increase," … "We are aiming to fill the gap with a simplified menu in a location many are already visiting and are excited to bring Einstein Bros. Bagels favorites to King Fuel consumers."
The menu will include breakfast favorites such as select bagel and shmear flavors, egg sandwiches and cold brew coffee, as well as hot Pizza Bagels for lunch.
"Einstein Bros. Bagels is a perfect fit for King Fuels as both companies share a commitment to excellent service and providing exceptionally convenient options," said Zaki Niazi, president and CEO of King Fuel. "We are thrilled to provide the Houston market with another convenient way to fuel up with a delicious fresh-baked breakfast or lunch."
Success does leave clues. One clue that time and time again continues to resurface is “the consumer is dynamic not static”.  Regular readers of this blog know that is the common refrain of Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  Our Grocerant Guru® can help your company 253-759-7869. 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Foodservice Consumers Can, Do, and will Evolve with Brand Leadership

Chain restaurants try to protect their brand, coddle loyal customers, invite new consumers with Limited Time Offers, (LTO’s) that simultaneously grow both the brands and consumer relevance according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.
When the team at Foodservice Solutions® reviewed the new research from The NPD Group that found Digital restaurant ordering by adults 65 and older increases 428% year-over-year in June it was clear that you can teach old dog’s new tricks 9 (so to speak).  Simply put force to adapt or not give customer what they want and need will drive top line sales and bottom line profits according to Johnson.
Yes, the Coronavirus pandemic has changed the world and how we react to even the basic of things including buying food, meals, and eating out. Some media reports say that the adoption of technology by companies of all types has move forward by five years over the past six months.
Clearly technology has driven many changes in consumer behavior, and among the most impactful is the rapid rise in using technology to order from a restaurant for takeout, TOGO, or delivery.
That NPD Group study reported, “the percent of restaurant traffic sourced to digital increased from 5% in January 2020 to 13% in June 2020. Digital orders increased by 135% in June compared to a year ago.”
So, get this the major contributor to those increases were older Americans, NPD found. In June, adults 65 and older increased their digital ordering by 428% and adults 55 and older increased their digital ordering by 200%.
David Portalatin, NPD’s vice president, food industry advisor stated “We’ve seen this not just in food, but across the economy,” said. “Older Americans are learning e-commerce because they find themselves vulnerable.”
The point is: forced to evolve, consumer did.  Even more important as Foodservice Solutions® team reminds regular blog readers regularly consumer move forward not backwards seeking new meus ideations, bolder flavors. Continued technology adoption is something that is here to stay.
According to the Pew Research Center73% of adults 65 and older are Internet users, up from just 14% in 2000. More than half of people 65 and older are now smartphone owners. So, when digital ordering, a growing number of consumers, including older adults, are increasingly accessing restaurants through third-party aggregators. Use of these third-party services has doubled since the pandemic began, NPD found, with 54% of March, April and May buyers not having used them in the prior six months.

“[Adults 65 and older] are the ones who weren’t even ordering digital before,” said Portalatin. “So we’re bringing a lot of new people along here.”
Once again not unlike everyone else, older adults are showing a preference for quick-service restaurants, NPD found. In the month of June, quick-service visits from adults 65 and older declined 9% versus a year ago. Meanwhile, full-service visits, the segment they visit the most, declined 38% versus a year ago. During the same period, quick-service visits from adults 55 and older declined 11%, and full-service visits 39%.
No matter what the driver of change is like the pandemic it has fast-tracked seniors’ adoption of digital ordering, consumer like food discovery and there is little likely hood that they will all return to the old ways. 
Foodservice Solutions® team is here to help you drive top line sales and bottom-line profits. Are you looking a customer ahead? Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may the clue you need to propel your continued success.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Sun Baskets Grocerant Niche Ready-2-Heat Meal Kits

How well do you know your customer?  Do you know how many people want to come home from work and prepare a meal from scratch, cook a meal, and do dishes?  Well, according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® recent grocerant scorecards reveled that 83.1% all dinners prepared at home have at least 1 meal component and 68.4% have two meal components.
So, when Meal-kit provider Sun Basket has launched Fresh & Ready meals, which require no preparation and can be made in as little as six minutes. The team at Foodservice Solutions® noted that not only can consumers ‘eat clean and feel great’ but that halo of ‘better-4-you’ is extended as they don’t have to do any prep work and in many homes no dishes, the team knew they understand today’s grocerant niche consumers. 
According to Sun Basket, “its Fresh & Ready meals are created by award-winning chefs, and feature in-season ingredients grown for peak flavor. The new line provides Sun Basket customers with additional convenient meal solutions that are superior in quality, taste and nutrition.”
For those of you who don’t know, Fresh & Ready meals are served in premium wood trays that can go straight into the oven or microwave. The meals are never frozen, made fresh each week and feature organic produce grown on family farms.
Are you ready to try them?  Here is how you can they are available as part of Sun Basket's weekly meal plan, the meals start at $10.99 per serving. Menu offerings include recipes such as pappardelle with wilted spinach, sweet peas and fresh ricotta; shrimp paella with fire-roasted tomatoes and bell pepper; and Southwestern turkey and sweet potato skillet. Sun Basket's assortment of freshly prepared, ready-to-heat meals is now available nationally under the new name Fresh & Ready.
Don Barnett, CEO of San Francisco-based Sun Basket stated, "Sun Basket continues to innovate in order to adapt to consumers' growing desire for a quick dinner solution, with taste and nutrition at the forefront," … . "The launch of Fresh & Ready meals further emphasizes our commitment to offering healthy, high-quality options for those looking to maintain a balanced diet even on their busiest days. Now more than ever, Americans are looking for an alternative to cooking seven days a week, and this extension is our fastest meal option to date."
If you have gone back to work, are tired, but want to “eat clean and feel great fast” you just might want to try Sun Basket grocerant niche Ready-2-Heat meals.  Those meals can be cooked in an oven or microwave in as little as six minutes, and that particular product accounted for nearly half of all Sun Basket orders in the first half of 2020, Meyers said. The grocerant niche is the right track for food sales growth.
Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant Program Assessment, Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Grocers Worry as Dollar Stores Focus on Grocerant Food

Time starved, price conscious consumers continue migration food dollars from grocery stores to grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food at Dollar Stores. Consumers are finding food discover rewarding as both Dollar General and Dollar Tree continue to expand food offering in the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food niche. 
Dollar General continues to focus on the consumer creating a platform that is more customer-friendly shopping experience, including faster checkout, and more grocerant niche food products drive incremental relevance according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.
Even Amazon cannot compete with Dollar Tree stores as the Dollar Store sector continue to be one step ahead of the online retailer. That step by the way according to the team at Foodservice Solutions® is the continued growth of new customers stepping into dollar stores and then returning stepping back into dollar stores.
The Dollar Store sector successfully garnered the ‘center’ of the store from legacy grocery stores over the past 15 years and now they are going after the fresh food market place. It’s a simple process as they introduce more fresh food at a lower price, they drive home the message that they can save consumers time as well.

The goal of the prototype is to emphasize perishables and help moms find quick meal solutions or fill-in items, Dollar General has expanded its cooler penetration across store bases. This was prompted by research that shows a basket with a perishable item is nearly 50-percent higher than the chain average.
Restaurants and C-stores have been building sales momentum within the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food niche. Now that both Dollar Tree and Dollar General have entered the mix the price, service, quality equilibrium will be resetting once again.  Are you prepared? Do you need outside eyes?
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

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

At Albertsons' Sustainability Means Vertical Farms But is that Enough

Turning around a battleship that is taking on water is very hard, near impossible, and Albertson’s over past three years had looked like a ‘battleship’ in trouble closing stores in markets all around the country, capitulating market share to competitors according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  
So, when Albertsons announced an agreement to provide shoppers in more than 430 of its California stores with fresh produce grown in a futuristic vertical farm sending the messaging that Albertson’s is ‘getting-better-for-you’ the team at Foodservice Solutions® ponder out loud that it just might be too little too late.  The stock price of Albertsons continues to be well be low the range it went public at $16.00 a share.  
While the collaboration with Plenty marks a “milestone” for the grower, which produces a variety of packaged greens under the Plenty brand out of a high-tech South San Francisco indoor farm that provides what it said was pesticide-free, fresh, sustainable and flavorful produce grown using less than 1% of the land and 5% of the water of conventional outdoor growers.
There is nothing bad about the deal but from a financial standpoint it appears that the deal was better for ‘Softbank’ than Albertsons according to Johnson. Geoff White, EVP of merchandising for Albertsons “We pride ourselves on offering fresh, quality products that surprise and delight our customers,”, … “Plenty’s data-driven and sustainable methods are truly innovative, and we look forward to bringing their unique and exciting products to more customers in California as they scale their operations.”

Plenty said its operation leverages data analytics, machine learning and customized lighting to maximize taste, while a combination of wind and solar provides 100% of the farm’s energy. The current Plenty farm can grow 1 million plants at a time and process 200 plants per minute. Ok, so what’s not to like about that?  Within the grocerant niche it’s the ‘halo’ of better-4-you’ food and food products that continues to drive sales and garner incremental customer trial and customer migration according to Johnson.
“Albertsons Cos. is leading the industry by creating a new partnership model to deliver customers the intensely flavorful and fresh produce of the Plenty farm,” said Matt Barnard, CEO of Plenty. “This is an important milestone for the Plenty team, and we look forward to bringing Albertsons Cos. customers the best-tasting and cleanest greens they’ve ever eaten.”
Integrating grocerant niche product messaging is an important sept to drive top line sales and bottom line profits.  Food retailer specifically grocers must rethink consumer messaging and focus on selling meals not CPG products. Albertsons stock price is a reflection on how relevant consumers think the brand is. 
Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant Program Assessment, Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

At Brinker International Focused Food Marketing Drives Virtual Restaurants Sales

Success does leave clues.  At Brinker they have collected curated brand marketing clues and it’s those clues that are driving the success of It’s Just Wings Brinker’s new virtual brand restaurants that is collocated within existing units according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  
Brinker has long understood driving top line sales and bottom-line profits required clear, focused, branded messaging that was continually evolving consumer touchpoints with relevance.
Back in the day when chain restaurant takeout sales were averaging 2.5% to 3.25% of sales it was Brinker that was the first casual dining restaurant to invest $30,000 per store to add takeout windows all based on data insights from within the chain and CyberMeals online ordering research of which our Grocerant Guru® played a big role. Today, the    
Brinker International, Inc’s CEO Wyman Roberts stated, “Sales at Brinker's It's Just Wings virtual brand are "highly incremental,".  So, get this, the concept is delivery-only. The sales at It’s Just Wings are posting $3 million in average weekly sales since debuting the last week of June, according to Wyman.
Brinker expects It’s Just Wings, the virtual delivery brand introduced by the Chili’s Grill & Bar parent in the last week of June, can grow into a $150-million-a-year business in its first year, according to Wyman. Let’s look back again, they were first to develop takeout windows for pick-up and carryout. 

Brinker has for years had some of the very best food marketing professionals on staff driving the growth of the brand, units, top line sales and bottom-line profits according to Johnson. Virtual brands driving by a consistent brand message with relevance consumer touchpoints will drive multiple concept types and food delivery formants according to Johnson.
Brinker knows this space well.  Here are some clues that will help you know some of what Brinker knows:
1.       60% of U.S. consumers order delivery or takeout once a week.
2.       31% say they use these third-party delivery services at least twice a week.
3.       34% of consumers spend at least $50 per order when ordering food online.
4.       20% of consumers say they spend more on off-premise orders compared to a regular dine-in experience.
5.       Digital ordering and delivery have grown 300% faster than dine-in traffic since 2014.
6.       70% of consumers say they’d rather order directly from a restaurant, preferring that their money goes straight to the restaurant and not a third party.
7.       57% of millennials say that they have restaurant food delivered so they can watch movies and TV shows at home.
8.       59% of restaurant orders from millennials are takeout or delivery.
9.       33% of consumers say they would be willing to pay a higher fee for faster delivery service.
10.   87% of Americans who use third-party food delivery services agree that it makes their lives easier.
11.   45% of consumers say that offering mobile ordering or loyalty programs would encourage them to use online ordering services more often.
12.   63% of consumers agree that it is more convenient to get delivery than dining out with a family.
13.   Americans who have not used a third-party restaurant delivery service say fast delivery (31%), restaurant selection (28%), low order minimums (27%) and first-use coupons (26%) would motivate them to try it.
14.   60% of restaurant operators say that offering delivery has generated incremental sales.
15.   Orders placed via smartphone and mobile apps will become a $38 billion industry by 2020.
16.   Pizza chains reported an 18% increase in customer spend from online/mobile orders vs. phone orders.
17.   Working with a third party delivery service has been found to raise restaurant sales volume by 10 to 20%.
18.   Delivery sales could rise an annual average of more than 20% to $365 billion worldwide by 2030, from $35 billion.
19.   43% of restaurant professionals said they believe third-party apps—many of which withhold data—interfere with the direct relationship between a restaurant/bar/pub and its customers.
20.   Customers who place an online order with a restaurant will visit that restaurant 67% more frequently than those who don’t. 
21.   It’s estimated that mobile orders will make up close to 11% of all QSR sales by 2020.
22.   Visits to U.S. restaurants where guests paid by mobile app increased by 50% from 2017-18.
Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may have the clue you need to propel your continued success.