Thursday, October 15, 2020

Can Kroger Take the CPG Mentality Out Fresh Prepared Food


Kroger wrote off $12 Million after they experiment with Main & Vine that featured Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared foods, meats, bakery and produce after only 23 months.  That was after they had owned Harris Teeter, and Mariano’s for years.  How could that be? 

Simple, Kroger tried to make grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food a CPG product according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  It must be something in the water at the Kroger corporate office, it’s like they are wearing tennis shoes without laces and trying to run.  They keep trying to make the future look more like the past.

Given their lack of growth success within the grocerant niche we once again were not surprised to see them try to get into the restaurant business with a new partnership with delivery-only startup ClusterTruck.  

The team at Foodservice Solutions® asks can they restrain their staff and their habits of the past trying to make everything look like yesterday? ClusterTruck is to open ghost kitchens at Kroger stores near Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio.

So, Kroger is repurposing about 1,000 square feet of space at its participating stores to make room for the ghost kitchen prep and pickup areas. The ClusterTruck kitchens offer a menu of more than 80 delivery and takeout meals “best characterized as food quality you can get at a sit-down restaurant with the personality of street food,” the Kroger PR.

Dan De La Rosa, Kroger’s group vice president of fresh merchandising  stated, "The new on-premise kitchen, in partnership with ClusterTruck, is an innovation that streamlines ordering, preparation and delivery, supporting Kroger as we meet the sustained customer demand for quick, fresh restaurant-quality meals, especially as we navigate an unprecedented health crisis that has affected every aspect of our lives, including mealtime,”,

The shift to a focus on meals is important according to Johnson, who added “if Kroger focuses on the consumer and meals this just might be one pilot that takes flight.” If success leaves clues and it does consumers are the core to any brands long term success and consumers are dynamic not static.

Will the ClusterTruck pilot light burn out? If Kroger, evaluates it on CPG metrics, or integrates marketing messaging that treats it more like a CPG product the odds are good that the ClusterTruck pilot light may fall the way of all the other grocerant niche testing.

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

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