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
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.
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
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
6. Shoppers’ top ways of learning about a
grocery store’s retail foodservice offering are in-store, but key targets shop
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
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
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
9. Retail foodservice price promotions
are not greatly effective in generating sales but can drive awareness and meal
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
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.
leave clues our clue for today is don’t settle for imitators. For international corporate presentations,
educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us 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