Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Grocerant Niche Two-Tier Pricing, Two-Tier Products, Drive Growth


Price sensitive and time starve more today than ever before consumers according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® stated “find that Fast Food restaurants meals are increasingly too expensive for many consumers and the ‘better for you’ alternative is grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared mix and match meal components that can be found at new alternative points of fresh food distribution. 

Today, many fast food branded restaurants are leveraging Two Tier Pricing to first garner trial and secondly build brand loyalty.  They offer entry level branded products like McDonalds dollar menu that allow existing customers trial and existing customers trade up either with LTO’s or specials on branded menu items.

Hudson Riehle, National Restaurant Association - SVP, Research & Knowledge Group reports that restaurant prices in May, 2021 were up 3.8% on a year-to-date basis.

Recently the Euromonitor put it this way.  “Fast food is changing, and not just in the category's dominant US market. Amidst fierce competition, fast food brands have been forced to differentiate themselves with broader menus, better food and higher-end outlet designs.

Johnson reports that recent Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant ScoreCards found that In developed markets this has led to the growing popularity for mix and match meal component bunding with 82.1% of all ‘home prepare meals having at least one mix and match meal component.

Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food helps lower-cost alternative to more traditional foodservice formats, while driving up meal satisfaction levels at home. In short it makes meal time a happy time when everyone gets what they like.

It’s time for fast food restaurant operators to begin bringing in new customers with grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food that goes beyond the current menu items. Clearly the branding opportunities inherent in the fast-food business model have allowed these chains to appeal to developing consumer subsets.  Now it’s time to expand the base to everyday meal time, every meal inside the home.

Consider that South Africa-based chicken fast food brand Nando's, for example, has relied on strong branding, exciting flavors and a unique dining experience to set it apart from other chicken fast food chains, a fact that helped exceptional growth.

Similarly, UK bakery products fast food brands EAT and Pret a Manger each have found success with a positioning of convenient, high-quality food, a modern grocerant atmosphere with a platform for ‘fast’ service. It’s time to think two-tier products and two-tier pricing to drive growth.  Are you looking a customer ahead?

Consumers have left clues and the universal commonalities in Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food are fueling retail success around the globe.  Success does leave clues are you implementing the right clues to drive top line sales and bottom-line profits for tomorrow?

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a grocerant program assessment, brand, product placement or for positioning assistance call 253-759-7869 or for more visit  or

In a Battle for 

Share of Stomach and 

Share of Dollars 

It's about Meals and Meal Components 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Chinese Food Grocerant Niche Growth Build or Classic Roll-Up


When Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® read about Yong Zhao, co-founder and CEO of Junzi Kitchen and Nice Day, was out to change the way Americans eat Chinese food he was inspired see others join the grocerant niche platform driving Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food sales. 

Back in the day, Johnson assisted Tim Glass, James Brimhall, and Ford Smith develop the first national online food platform cybermeals, then he assisted the same team in the national 65 restaurant food delivery services Roll-up for  

Yong sees that consumers are tired of having to call up the local Chinese restaurants every time a craving hits while surfing the Net wondering what ‘flavor of Chinese will I be getting? Across the country today close to, 70 percent of its Chinese restaurants are independently run.

Now, Yong he’s hoping to strike some deals with family-owned Chinese restaurants at the same time. Many of those families are looking to retire, so Zhao’s company is hoping to grow its brands by buying out those operators and modernizing their restaurants with today’s technology and tastes in mind using a classic roll-up strategy. Is your food sector ready to evolve?

The grocerant niche is still in its infancy foodservice sector after foodservice sector continues to evolve all migrating from the past to the future filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food. in order to garner both Gen Z and Millennial consumers in search of food discovery at the same time in search of a new level of standardization, consistency, and delivery. The roll-up strategy is perfect for this sector.

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 us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

Monday, June 28, 2021

Grocerant Foodservice Operators Leverage Robotics


Virtual restaurants, virtual kitchens, and chain restaurants are all expanding their brands footprint for less without having a ‘store front’ or paying millions to lease land or build a new building.  Technology has strengthened the hand of good food marketers according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Understanding how important it is for restaurants to reduce cost of operating Miso Robotics has introduce an automated beverage dispenser.  According to Johnson this technology will help drive down cost for grocerant niche fresh prepared food retailers giving them an advantage over legacy CPG retailers.

Miso Robotics is a startup targeting transforming the foodservice industry via Intelligent Automation.  Miso Robotics recently announced a partnership with Lancer Worldwide, (a global beverage dispenser) manufacturer trusted by the world’s top food and beverage brands – to build an intelligence backed, automated beverage dispenser that will bring enhanced functionality for a future-focused commercial kitchen.

Fast Food restaurant demand is up, while the restaurant industry is facing record labor shortages, operators are looking for ways to streamline operations, cut costs and implement solutions that drive a better and faster customer service experience.

Food retailers must look a customer ahead, mindful of the past but can’t get stuck in the past according to Johnson. Miso is creating new models for operator revenue streams that relied on drive-thru, takeout and delivery more so than ever before. While 60 to 70 percent of certain sales came from the drive-thru lane pre-pandemic, as COVID spread, major quick-serves experienced a jump as high as 90 percent. Looking a customer ahead operational efficiencies will help drive success and Miso is helping light the path forward.

Consumers are still time starved, so, the new delivery and drive-thru model have made the always-critical need of speed and efficiency an even bigger challenge as volume increases and staff decreases have added minutes to the clock for order completion. Because of this, total average drive-thru times slowed down by 29.8 seconds last year. How are you going to increase order fulfillment?

Legacy foodservice retailers need too warm up to the power of automation and robotics to accelerate recovery and meet demand. Miso Robotics has been leading the field in commercial kitchen automation through a robot-as-a-service (RaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) model that began with Flippy and has since branched out to CookRight.

While these two flagship products focus on food specifically, implementation success has proven broader back of house tasks can benefit from intelligent operational efficiency. Miso Robotics and Lancer saw the need for beverage automation in the commercial kitchen (virtual kitchens and virtual restaurants).

Jake Brewer, Chief Strategy Officer of Miso Robotics, stated, “Lancer has consistently supplied the market with dependable products for more than 50 years and there was no question when it came time to decide who to partner with to create an automated beverage dispenser,” …

Brewer continued, “Lancer has a legacy of stand-out industry quality and shares in our vision for beverage innovation and futuristic design. Order fulfillment is a major factor for customer satisfaction and operators can’t afford to have a beverage left behind when a delivery driver or customer visits. We are extremely excited to create a product that will not only make the lives of those working in commercial kitchens better, but will be a game changer for the industry as a whole to deliver a world-class customer experience.” 

Consider that the new automated beverage dispenser will integrate with the point of sales (POS) system and come equipped with a guided workflow for employees to ensure accurate order completion synced with driver and customer arrival times. The machine will be able to automatically pour drinks and advance beverages to enable an easy grab-and-go format for staff. When an order comes in, the connected approach will allow the beverage dispenser to ‘know’ the beverage needs associated with the order and will automatically issue the appropriate sized cup, begin pouring and seal the drink. The entire process is timed to complete as close as possible with the time the meal/remainder of the order is ready for hand off to the customer or delivery driver.

Brad Davis, Director of Applied Technologies for Lancer Worldwide, stated, “Lancer has always stood out as a trusted global beverage dispenser manufacturer because we put our customer and partner needs at the forefront of every project we undertake,” … “The quick service brands we work with every day are well aware of what their challenges are – they know they need more efficiency, and they know there is new technology out there that could make it possible.  How are you brining fresh food faster to the consumer?

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 edify your brand with relevance.  Call 253-759-7869 for more information. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

TooJay's Deli Meal Bundling Solutions


Since 1991 Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® has been tracking consumers meal shopping.  Johnson coined the term Grocerant (see yesterday’s blog) to help explain how consumers were finding ways to save time preparing meals.

Consumers continue to be time starved, and shopping habits continue to reflect that they do not want to cook from scratch but want to simply assemble a meal. TooJay’s Deli has figured that out and has a summer solution that will please today’s consumer.

Being outside and playing is much more fun than cooking from scratch for the vast majority of consumers. Now that Summer has officaly arrived.  To ease the burden of cooking or putting together a heavy picnic basket, TooJay’s Deli has released its new grocerant niche mix and match bundled meal solutions called, “Summer Sandwich Boxes,” and they are now available through August 15.

Note: Available for to-go or delivery orders only, the TooJay’s Summer Sandwich boxes can be ordered online at and include the following:

o    Sandwich – Choose from Turkey Breast, Ham, Corned Beef, Chicken Caesar, Roast Beef or Triple J. (choice of bread or wrap, cheese for an additional charge, and toppings for Corned Beef or Roasted Beef; choice of wrap for Chicken Caesar; and choice of bread for Triple J)

o    Chips

o    Pickle

o    Mini Black & White Cookie

o    Bottle of Water

o    Condiments, napkin, and utensil pack

How are you catering to the needs of today’s consumers?  Grocerant niche mix and match meal bundling is a solution you should be thinking about.  

Don’t over reach. Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions® can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit us on our social media sites by clicking the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Grocerant Guru’s Insights and Research Continues


Once again we want to remined readers that imitation is the highest form of flattery and Steven Johnson the Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® told his team he was quit humbled when he learned that a large group of retail foodservice research groups and associations combined to use his studies as the foundation of ‘The Power of Foodservice 2018 – Part 2.  The focus, format, findings, and vernacular edified Johnsons work dating back as far as 1996. 

The cycle of leadership continues as regular readers of this blog not only know that Johnson identified, quantified, qualified the Grocerant niche he coined the word Grocerant back in the day and published articles in both Nation’s Restaurant News and Foodservice Director in in 1996 in an article titled: Call Them Grocerants.

We wanted to restate the long-term view from the team at Foodservice Solutions® that the ‘new normal’ for where consumers will be getting meals and meal components will look more like our view from 2018 than the hiccup, we experienced in 2020 and 2021.  

Back in 2018 FMI and other’s findings to the point unmistaken nuance that the team at Foodservice Solutions® was on target.  Let’s start by how they are framing the new report: “By 4 p.m., 65 percent of shoppers don’t know what they’re going to have for dinner, but they do know they want it to be fresh, healthy and convenient—an intersection that places retail foodservice in a prime growth position if it’s well executed.” Here are the top 10 findings from the report. As we exit 2021, we will see these trends reemerging slowly then once again picking up steam:

1. The number of home-prepared dinners is decreasing, and where retail foodservice should benefit, it is not.

The average number of home-prepared dinners dropped to 4.6 meals per week, showing declines across demographics. However, with retail foodservice visits flat and unit/eaches sales down, restaurants are the main beneficiary of these declines. Whereas young Millennials are the least likely to cook, the presence of children appears to be a turning point for Millennials to eat at home more often. Older Millennials over index for retail foodservice and present a big growth opportunity.

2. A staggering 65 percent of Americans don’t know what’s for dinner at 4 p.m., and retail foodservice is not top of mind.

Only 35 percent of Americans usually know what’s for dinner two hours before mealtime, but only 15 percent frequently consider retail foodservice when unsure. The less likely shoppers are to have set dinner plans, the lower their per capita grocery spending. Standard featured days, a weekly meal plan, chef specials and online planning/shopping tools may drive awareness and sales.

3. Seven in 10 shoppers emphasize healthy, nutritious choices when ordering from retail foodservice or restaurants.

Healthful eating strategies differ by population group, but switching to better-for-you alternatives is the most frequently employed tactic of health-focused shoppers and foodservice regulars. While 68 percent of shoppers believe sufficient information to make educated decisions is available in general, many would appreciate additional tools in the deli/prepared foods department, led by healthier ingredients (85 percent), clean label items (83 percent) and in-store health and nutrition information/education (71 percent).

4. More shoppers are taking action on calorie callouts at restaurants. They are influencing retail foodservice selections equally.

While awareness of calorie labeling in restaurants is relatively unchanged, more of the shoppers who have taken notice are changing their selections—up 8 percentage points. Awareness of menu labeling at retail is lower than restaurants, at 54 percent vs. 77 percent. However, among shoppers who notice, an equal share adapts their selections. Most shoppers prefer to receive calorie and other nutrition information by the item or spoon, at 67 percent. An ounce-based system is the least popular.

5. Shoppers want it all: the ultimate deli/prepared foods department has grab-and-go and made-to-order.

Made-to-order offerings guaranteeing freshness and customization is the only way to go, according to 32 percent of shoppers, but 64 percent believe the ideal deli department carries both grab-and-go and made-to order items. Retail foodservice has a big opportunity to position either solution type as a meal ingredient in addition to a meal replacement as 53 percent of shoppers combine scratch-cooking with semi- and fully-prepared items.

6. Shoppers’ top ways of learning about a grocery store’s retail foodservice offering are in-store, but key targets shop less often.

In-store signage and personal observation/experience are the prime ways in which shoppers learn about a store’s foodservice offering. Both require in-store presence and far exceed the reach of out-of-store vehicles such as websites, apps or social media. This is the underlying reason for prime target consumers who cook less, but also shop less, to bypass retail foodservice. These consumers need other in- and out-of-store triggers to drive purchases, with awareness and variety being two major drivers.

7. Adding to its grocery adjacency advantage, retailers should emphasize the quality, freshness and healthfulness of the food itself.

Shoppers point to saving time over cooking, planning and cleaning, and having an immediate meal on the table as the four chief advantages of retail foodservice over home cooking. The ability to combine picking up tonight’s dinner with grocery shopping is seen as the greatest advantage over restaurant/fast food, followed by speedier ordering/pick up and offering better value for the money. Foodservice regulars see many more advantages and, in particular, highlight the superiority of the food itself.

8. Technology usage in dinner planning and other food/grocery applications is ramping up across demographics.

Shoppers of all ages, income levels and regions are increasingly using mobile, online, tablet and voice searches when deciding where and what to eat. More than half use digital/mobile technology to find recipes, check sales promotions, research dinner options, create grocery lists and order restaurant meals. Foodservice regulars are above-average technology users.

9. Retail foodservice price promotions are not greatly effective in generating sales but can drive awareness and meal planning.

Only 21 percent of shoppers regularly check retail foodservice promotions and a majority prefer favorable everyday low prices. IRI finds that only 14 percent of total deli/prepared foods vs. 34 percent of the total perimeter dollars are sold on merchandising. When promoted, retail foodservice sees a mere 4 percent increase in dollars, with little incrementality.

10. Shoppers have no strong preference for an in-store versus a central kitchen, but brands can provide a premium edge.

In-store production is not an automatic plus as the largest share of shoppers (44 percent) believe there is no difference in items prepared in a central kitchen or made in-store. Remaining respondents are fairly equally divided between in-store production being better (27 percent) versus a central kitchen being better (22 percent). Opinions are split on brand preferences as well: 36 percent like having familiar brands for items such as meat, deli meat and salad dressings in retail foodservice, but 43 percent are indifferent.

Success does leave clues our clue for today is don’t settle for imitators.  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

Are you Winning in the Battle

for Share of Stomach or 

Share of Food Dollars

Friday, June 25, 2021

Grocerant Fresh Food Edifies Consumer Choice


Empowering consumer choice will drive incremental sales. Success does leave clues and how and where consumers obtain dinner is a key driver of grocerant niche growth and foodservice channel migration according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

The Debate

Cook dinner from scratch, eat at a restaurant, pick-up a prepared meal at a grocer, order a meal Online from a virtual restaurant, or have mix & match meal components delivered. In a new report from Paytronix Systems found that consumers spent a collective $769 billion ordering food from restaurants last year, with 63% of that — or $486 billion —consumed at home.

Of the $486 billion, 89% was ordered via desktop websites, mobile apps and aggregator apps, the report found. Additionally, 61% of digital food orders in 2020 was spent at restaurants that had only offered dine-in service before the pandemic.

The report also found that consumers spent 50% more on average when they placed orders online for takeout. At noon there are 82.3% of consumers that do not know what’s for dinner.  The simple fact according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant ScoreCards is in 2021 at 4 PM 61.1% of consumers do not know what they are going to have for dinner. 

The undercurrents of demographic change continue to drive the uncertainty according to Johnson fully 47.0% of Americans over the age of 18 are single and the need to cooking from scratch and planning for them is simply not top-of-mind.  In fact fast our 2021 ScoreCards indicate that for singles fully 76.2% top choice is ‘where to pick up dinner’.

The Choice Cook or Up-Pick-Up Meal Components

Consumers today have a plethora of choices for when it comes to dinner.  Traditionally consumers would buy food at a grocery store and cook from scratch but that was 1950-1970 and then the undercurrents of change began with an abundance of great restaurant choice and increasing fresh prepared food options at grocery stores, drug stores, and convenience stores. All driven by increasing time constraints on consumers combined with an increased lack of cooking skill set for new international flavor profiles consumers have become accustom. Here are some more recent insights into picking up mix and match meal components.


1.       83.1% all dinners have at least 1 grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat meal component and 68.4% have two meal components.

2.       When asked if they wanted to cook dinner from scratch or assemble dinner from fresh meal components 90.4 % of Gen Z chose assemble from Fresh Prepared Meal Components and Millennials 82.7% chose meal components.

3.       Seventy-three percent of retail prepared food purchases are taken to go

4.       Prepared food purchases are frequently a planned purchase among 59% of shoppers, while 41% of shoppers said they buy prepared foods on impulse. Dinner has the highest amount of prepared food buys with 79% of respondents making purchases for that meal, while lunch comes in at 77% and breakfast at 62%.

5.       55% of consumers would like to try autonomous EV delivery


Hello fresh has followed suit and is now offering its meal kits at 581 Giant Food Stop & Shop grocery stores.  Johnson reminds us that those meal kits are for customers that want to cook at home and do dishes.  It’s important to note that those meal kits in grocery stores are competing with the service deli where rotisserie chicken and many other fresh prepared meal components are being sold and many are being sold for less than the cost of the meal kit.  

Bain & Co. estimates meal kit sales are “$1.5 billion annually” our Grocerant Guru® reminds us that number is like a cup of water in the Pacific Ocean. Nielsen states that meal kit spending is growing ‘more than three times as fast as other channels’ which might be more important number.

Restaurants & C-stores

Remember that 47.0% of all Americans over the age of 18 are single and restaurants and fast-food drive thru restaurants specifically offer fast fresh food fast that is portable and priced very competitively has become a compelling option for what’s for dinner. Fast casual restaurants along with full-service restaurants are increasingly offing delivery, pick-up or third party food delivery to compete with the drive-thru. 

The National Association of Convenience stores as regular readers of this blog know has tested their own meal kits in stores. C-stores have a decided advantage to restaurants and grocery stores according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant ScoreCards.  That advantage identified by 81.9% of respondents was the ability to mix & match meal components. Speed of service was second with 73.5% of consumers saying it was faster than either a restaurant or a grocery store.

Food Manufacturing Conundrum

Manufactures the ilk of Kraft-Hines, Campbell’s Soup, Tyson, Smucker’s, General Mills, and Unilever all must rethink how they are selling food.  Rethink where food is being bought? Most important food manufactures must reinvest in who is today’s consumers. Food manufactures must ask themselves do our products look more like yesterday than tomorrow.

So just what is your New Electricity? Success does leave clues  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 a Grocerant Program Assessment, or new Grocerant niche product Ideation?  Want one?  Call 253-759-7869 Email:

Are you winning the battle for

Share of Stomach