Monday, September 13, 2021

Restaurant Sales Slide as FMI’s National Family Meals Month Soars


What is it that prevents restaurants from understanding that the grocery sector under the tutelage and with the assistance of the FMI Foundation once again leverages September to target restaurant customers into grocery stores and away from them?  Who, knows an outsider might just think it is a combination of tunnel vision and sector capitulation? Success does leave clues and the grocery sector in September is doing all the right things.

Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® believes ‘chain restaurants would rather spend marketing dollars where it’s easy, the Thanksgiving-Christmas season, and in March, April, May when comps will be up anyway so it easier to look like your advertising works.”  He, may be right, but that is simply an easy out.

FMI Foundation knows it’s stuff, 87% of U.S. consumers say that they are cooking with their families more than or the same as before the pandemic and 86% report they are having more or same amount of in-person family meals. Another survey conducted earlier this year by market research firm Acosta showed that 92% of families plan to continue eating together at home at least as frequently or more frequently as they are doing now. That said, there are 26 restaurants for every grocery store today and consumers still do not want to cook from scratch according to Johnson. It’s a fight for share of stomach and it should last all year. 

In a battle for Share of Stomach

Who is Winning in September?

FMI, created National Family Meals Month to raise awareness of the benefits of sharing frequent family meals. “We have always intuitively sensed that family meals are good for us,” said David Fikes, executive director of the FMI Foundation, citing FMI’s research tracking tool called Staying Strong with Family Meals” barometer. “But when COVID-19 turned our worlds upside down, we tangibly discovered the benefits of family meals. When we were six months into the crisis, our barometer revealed that Americans were using family meals to stay strong – physically and emotionally – during the global pandemic. It is encouraging to see, now a year-and-a-half later, that Americans plan to continue this positive practice when the world establishes a new normal.” 

In addition to leveraging information and materials from FMI’s national campaign, several grocers are highlighting their family-friendly fare during National Family Meals Month. This is a great program?  Collective advertising focus on customers and meals.  It works year after year with no resistance only capitulation from the restaurant sector. Let’s see who is doing what:


Speaking of family fare, the SpartanNash banner Family Fare is providing shoppers with a variety of recipes and meal ideas for National Family Meals Month. Among other resources, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer is sharing videos from its dietitians showing how to shop for and make family meals like baked chicken nuggets and overnight oats. SpartanNash's other banners, including Martin’s Super Markets, D&W Fresh Market, VG’s Grocery and Dan’s Supermarket, are also celebrating Family Meals Month with suggestions for shoppers.

Food City

Food City’s dietitians are featured in social media videos explaining how customers can find resources to make more meals together at home. The grocer, part of the Abington, Va.-based K-VA-T Food Stores, is also offering a free kids’ meal with the purchase of an adult hot bar item on weeknights during September.

The Giant Co.

The Giant Co., headquartered in Carlisle, Pa., is likewise sharing recipes from its team of nutritionists for meals and snacks, spotlighting in free classes on “Leisurely Lunches” and family meals. Additionally, the retailer is launching a sweepstakes for National Family Meals Month, offering a chance to win a free pantry makeover experience worth up to $150 when attending one of the free classes.


West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee, Inc. is offering several activities and promotions for National Family Meals Month, including contactless drive-through giveaways of free mealtime dinners, kids-eat-free offers in its foodservice areas, live cooking demonstrations, family-friendly virtual classes, store tours and recipe and meal prep suggestions and recipes. Family-focused events will be held across the retailer’s eight-state regions, highlighting families from all cultures. Given the fact that September is also Hispanic Heritage Month, Hy-Vee is recognizing both occasions by spotlighting Hispanic family meal traditions.


Tops Friendly Markets, Williamsville, N.Y., is sharing ideas for easy and affordable meal solutions and encouraging its shoppers to do to the same by submitting their favorite family recipes that can be featured on the retailer’s website. Tops also created a Pinterest board for family meal inspiration and is touting its pickup and delivery services that make family meal shopping and preparation easier.


Consumer packaged goods and brands are rolling out their own programs for National Family Meals Month as well. Eggland's Best for example, just launched a “Share a Better Family Meal” campaign that includes live cooking demos, recipes, family activity ideas and a contest.

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. 


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