There is little doubt that grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food adoption continues to drive sales of ‘hand-held-foods’ according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.
Pizza just might be the one menu item helping to fuel sales within the grocery sector according to Johnson. It’s not unusual for customers to walk out of the grocery store with pizza slices or pies for the family, as pizza programs have long been a staple of many legacy grocery stores’ fresh food offerings.
Here we go again, lets look at some recent data this time from the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA). They found that deli prepared and deli entertaining results remained strong relative to both 2020 and 2021 with pizza sales coming in at $56 million, an 8.6% increase year over year. More impressive for the pizza category is the fact that unit movement outperformed last year by 7.1%.
Whitney Atkins, global marketing vice president of IDDBA, stated, “Spring traditionally brings busy kids’ schedules and more daylight so consumers are looking for and purchasing more value-added meals and grab-and-go options,” ... “Add in that consumer shopping options are back in comparison to 2020 and 2021 challenges, the outlook for the pizza category remains one of growth.”
Jorge Alvarez, director of deli at Bashas, stated, “At our customers’ suggestion, we have tried a new vegetarian pizza that has proven quite popular, and we are looking to make it a permanent menu item,”…’. “We’re bullish on our pizza program and are working on adding four new specialty pizza items to our menu.”
Carrie Walters, culinary director and corporate chef of five-store Dorothy Lane Market, stated, “our stores offer an authentic Naples-style pizza straight out of its in-store oven, which has been a big hit with customers.”
So, it seems as if part of the success comes from the dough being made from scratch by Dorothy Lane artisan bakers, and utilizing a house-made red sauce and fresh mozzarella. Walters continued, “We try to stick to a traditional Italian Naples-style menu, so you won’t find something like a cheeseburger ranch pizza here,”
Consider the depth of customer adoption of grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food. Walters went on to add, ‘the supermarket’s pizza program has expanded to other sectors as well. For instance, the bakery department offers bowls of fresh dough, so customers can create their own pizzas at home; and it also offers a take-and-bake pan-type of pizza, with a thicker crust, that has more traditional ingredients, like pepperoni and sausage, as well as pesto and vegetarian.’
While restaurant pizza sales matter, maybe not as much. Consumers have a lot of options for pizza, whether it’s grabbing slices at the local pizzeria or the many delivery choices available from fast-food chains like Pizza Hut or Dominos. That’s why it’s vital that supermarket pizza programs offer a competitive advantage.
Consider that, a popular event at Bashas’ is its “Pizza Friday Special,” which provides a 16-inch cheese pizza for only $6.99. Customers flock to the store on Friday nights, the retailer said.
Building a Larger Share of Stomach
“We will continue to provide great customer service, top-quality ingredients and a very competitive retail price, making grocery store pizza a cost-saving option relative to dedicated pizza takeout businesses,” Alvarez said.
Looking more like a restaurant every day, besides the regular menu, Dorothy Lane Market offers a “Pizza of the Month” utilizing fresh ingredients on its Neapolitan pizza. For instance, during zucchini season, it will have a zucchini-style pizza, and during peach season, it highlights a peach pizza with arugula and prosciutto.
Walters notes that the retailer was a little concerned when it first put in the Naples-style ovens in-store, afraid it would impact sales of the take-and-bake customer. “But these are two different types of pizza and two completely different types of customers,” she said. “Sales for both have been great.”
Once again looking and acting like a chain restaurant, a grocery store pizza program to prove successful at the supermarket, people need to know about it, so marketing is of upmost importance.
Alvarez, went on to add, “We get the word out about our pizza program in several ways,”. “We place it in our weekly ad about once a month. We also utilize social media channels, in-store signage and intercom announcements.”
The same can be said at Dorothy Lane Market, who has added drive-up service for its pizza lineup, and it also partnered with DoorDash so customers could get its favorite pizzas that way as well.
“When people look at the old-fashioned yellow pages and think about who they’re going to call to get pizza delivered, I don’t think they naturally think of the grocery store, so we’ve done a lot of merchandising and coupons that we can tape to the box similar to what you might see at Dominos,” Walters said.
Dorothy Lane has a newsletter that goes out once a week featuring pizza specials and heavily promoting the Pizza of the Month, which gets photographed, put-on posters and is also featured in the company’s magazine and online.
“No pizza is a bad pizza, and for the customer, it’s fun variety makes the world go around,” Walters said. “People have their favorites, of course, but we’re proud that we have two different options that customers enjoy.” Grocery stores can continue to grow grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food in other categories as well.
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