Wednesday, February 8, 2023

C-Store Fresh Prepared Grocerant Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Growth


Success does leave clues and Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® is one of the best at picking them up, sharing them, up-dating them, all while helping service deli’s, restaurants, and c-stores drive top-line sales and bottom-line profits.

At times it is important to look back at what was important and rethink how we should move forward. So, according to Joyce Baird, strategic account manager at research and consulting firm Foodservice IP. During a presentation in 2021, she discussed various factors affecting the current convenience foodservice market and steps retailers can take to boost their programs. Let’s look what she had to say:

1. Been There, Done That

"We've been there, we've done this, we've been through crises," Baird said, pointing to major historical events such as the 1918 Spanish Flu, the stock market crash, and The Great Recession.

While all of these events had major effects on society, they weren't the end of the world or of any retail channels. Similarly, retailers that persevere and deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the labor crisis and disruptions to the supply chain, will eventually find themselves on the other side as things improve.

2. Prepared & Delivered Food Is Thriving

A wide range of away-from-home food options are taking off. Ghost kitchens, turnkey solutions and wholesaler/distributor-provided commissaries are just a few examples of services that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and are thriving now.

3. Ecommerce Has Accelerated During COVID-19

Consumers across all demographics have increased the number of foodservice purchases they make via ecommerce vs. more traditional means. And it isn't just a temporary measure until the pandemic is over. Baird pointed to a retirement community that brought on a tech person specifically to teach residents how to use smartphones, including for delivery services.

To make the most of this, c-store retailers need to keep in mind the reasons customers purchase more through ecommerce (quality, cost savings, and convenience), and what will push them to purchase less (a poor experience or substituting other channels.)

4. Foodservice Is Necessary

In America, people plan going out to eat more than they plan anything else. Not everyone has time to prepare food, making the foodservice category necessary. 

Consumer sentiment is changing with age. "Bubba" is no longer the primary c-store customer, and younger consumers tend to view c-stores as places they can get anything, rather than falling back on the stereotype of bad gas station food.

5. C-store Foodservice Is Positioned to Fight for Share of Stomach

The foodservice category at c-stores is estimated to reach $12.2 billion in 2023, according to the Foodservice IP 2021 Convenience Store Foodservice Report, with hot snacks, chicken and pizza leading the way.

With category growth comes competition growth. C-store operators should treat all food outlets including fast-food restaurants, regional quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and coffee/doughnut stores as competition. Doing so will keep them better positioned to fight for share of stomach.

"Make sure you're looking at what all is around you," Baird said.

6. Seek Strategic Advisors, Not Vendors

Vendor partners shouldn't just be companies that supply product, they should be advisors that know foodservice. Strong knowledge of how the category works is key, and they need to be aware of what keeps retailers up at night.

Retailers should expect supplier companies to do their homework and come to the table with solutions; know hard and soft costs, including detailed product information down to the last ingredient used; deliver product and service innovation, including good communication, trust and a willingness to bring new ideas such as marketing initiatives; mutual investment, with the ability to commit and reinvest in their business; and the willingness to prioritize the retailer.

Vendors should also be able to show they are already familiar with competitive offerings, provide fact-based evidence to support their ideas, and come up with two or three ideas that fit a c-store's concept.

7. Rigorously Execute on the Restaurant Basics

A winning value proposition consists of consistently solid basics (including service, food and unit appearance) combined with resonating points of differentiation (such as customer lifestyle integration, hospitality, menu desirability, atmosphere, concept essence, and manager presence.) C-stores that position themselves to follow through on these basics will be in a solid competitive position.

8. Prepare for Post-COVID Changes  

Safety and cleanliness are part of the new foodservice reality. Customers may not even know they're looking for these things, but still feel relieved when they see cleaning products inside a store.

Contagion concerns, poor ventilation and lack of masks are among the reasons customers give for not feeling safe in a store. Retailers need to have a plan for addressing these concerns to make their customers feel welcome.

9. Flexible Organizations Thrive in Uncertainty 

It's impossible to know what is coming, but c-store operators are capable of planning for multiple outcomes, whereas a lot of companies just have one strategy.

Retailers should evaluate implementation steps, not just the end result, and remain a "stubbornly" agile and flexible culture. Basing their decisions on what's happening in practice, not in theory, will lead to better outcomes.

10. The Forecast Is Bright  

C-stores experienced a negative impact in 2020 due to the pandemic, but they have had a leg up on competitors in 2021, and will continue to, as essential businesses. They also benefit from consumers viewing them as similar to QSRs.

Looking ahead, foodservice will remain an integral part of c-store profitability and patron desires. Not all stores will be a fit for prepared food and dispensed beverages but, as a whole, the industry can expect good things from the category, according to Baird. 

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. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

C-Store GetGo’s First Fresh Food Fast Drive Thru Site


Convenience stores have been garnering fast food restaurant customers for over 18 years with new grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food priced competitively. One legacy grocery store understands the size of the opportunity and is taking the next step.

That company is Giant Eagle who owns convenience store GetGo + Market; not only have the succeed with full flavored fresh food, they are now adding a drive-thru to elevate service in the minds-eye of the consumer.  According to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®, “GetGo Café + Market will see incremental fresh food sales in a dayparts.”

Brandon Daniels, public relations manager for GetGo, stated, “We’re so excited to celebrate the opening of our newest GetGo Café + Market right here in Mentor,” …. “This location is unique as it’s our first GetGo built from the ground up to feature a drive-through. We’re all about fresh food, and with this drive-through lane, we’re thrilled to bring the Mentor community our delicious made-to-order menu with the convenience you’d expect from GetGo.”

Understanding the power of the ‘halo’ of better for you that encompass the grocerant niche, GetGo will present a donation to Hunger Network. To supplement this donation, GetGo also announced the “Buy a Sub, Share the Love” initiative, in which $1 of every sub purchased in the month of February will be donated to Hunger Network (up to $2,500). Hunger Network is Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s, second-largest emergency food distribution and recovery organization, and for 25 years, has worked to end food insecurity and inequity through hunger relief centers and food rescue programs. It also works to build a healthier community by providing hygiene items, nutrition education resources and connections to health providers.

Ohio football legend Josh Cribbs was the celebrity guest team member on drive-through duty, helping to fulfill orders from 1-2 p.m. Josh was available to take selfies and sign autographs on opening day.

Yes, there was more, Ahmaad Crump, the on-court host for the Cleveland Cavaliers, as also part of the celebration from noon to 1 p.m. GetGo’s mascot, Lil’ Tot, will be joined by Cleveland Cavaliers’ mascot, Sir CC, at that time as well for photo opportunities.

Guests attending the grand opening ceremony were treated to a prize wheel with a variety of GetGo merchandise and coupons. They’ll also get the opportunity to sample several of GetGo’s made-to-order appetizers and entrees. Several of GetGo’s vendors will also be on-site offering free samples and merchandise as well.

In cae you did not know, GetGo is an innovative, food-first convenience store experience with more than 260 locations throughout western Pennsylvania, Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana. GetGo offers food and fuel in a variety of models — from open-concept stores to stand-alone kiosks. GetGo Café + Market locations feature an extensive menu of high-quality, made-to-order foods and a market stocked with ready-to-eat meals, packaged goods and convenience items. Many sites offer touchless and tunnel WetGo car washes. GetGo is headquartered in Pittsburgh and operated by Giant Eagle Inc.

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, February 6, 2023

Portable Meal Components are for Eating-In while Eating-Out


Where are you selling meals and meal components? No one will dispute the fact that consumer like Eat-Out while Eating-In as documented many times over the past eight years by our own Grocerant Guru®.  In fact is the team at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® after identifying, quantifying, and qualifying Eating-In while Eating-Out has called it the new normal within retail foodservice and has become a mainstay of food retail in all retail food sector 2023 according to Steven Johnson.

Food research companies the ilk of The NPD Group have decided the team at Foodservice Solutions® was dead right, spot-on, and correct last year in their National Eating Trends Report NPD found that “Unlike recent generations, consumers today are shifting toward eating more dinners at home, including those purchased at restaurants” Think about it; eating-in while eating-out.  Have you connected with the team at Foodservice Solutions® on LinkedIn yet? Here is the link:

Regular readers of this blog know that, NPD found “the trend toward incorporating foodservice items from restaurants or retail into a “blended” in-home dinner is on the rise, NPD found. Consider just why this is some important. The NPD report found adults under age 40, which includes Millennials and Gen Z, as the primary consumers of the trend.   

Regular readers of this blog are also familiar with Foodservice Solutions® FIVE P’s of Food Marketing.  The Five P’s were vetted, when they were identified, quantified, and qualified. The FIVE Ps outlined seven years ago the undercurrents driving change within retail foodservice today.  NPD is catching on and catching up all the while doing a very good job.  

NPD went on to say “The lower cost to eat at home and higher cost to eat at restaurants, combined with the ability to order and have delivered just about anything online, are among the reasons consumers are eating more at home. Additionally, there are fewer Americans in the workforce today, due in part to a larger retirement-age population.”

Here’s our point today there is a reason we have over 355,000 followers on the business social media site LinkedIn.  Industry professionals know the team at Foodservice Solutions® and our Grocerant Guru® have been the leading foodservice insight, market positioning, and trend undercurrents experts for the past ten years.  We just wanted to thank you for flowing us asking us the best questions that push us to do our best for you and companies that want to move forward by Looking A Customer Ahead.  

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  of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

Sunday, February 5, 2023

At Just Salad You Can Keep the Bowl


Just what is branded sustainability? At Just Salad, I guess it is a branded salad bowl that you can reuse.  Reusing a salad bowl had the ‘halo’ of better for you in the minds-eye of the consumer according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®

It is clear that Just Salad understand the importance of sustainability as a valued consumer touchpoint. To further incentivize waste-free dining and make sustainability affordable and accessible to everyone, Just Salad will be running a promotion for its Reusable Bowl Program throughout February.

All month long, Just Salad is dropping the price of salads to $8.99 for guests who reuse their bowl for in-store purchases. This is a great example of consumers focused interactive and participatory food marketing that at a minimum will drive trial according to the team at Foodservice Solutions®.  

Just Salad is driven by a mission to create the most convenient, waste-free dining experience for customers nationwide, this initiative represents one of the many innovative ways that Just Salad is working toward eliminating single-use packaging waste and promoting everyday reuse.

How many of you are going to buy a couple of these bowls and keep the branded Just Salad bowl at home for your next ‘homemade’ salad?

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a 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

Saturday, February 4, 2023

The Grocery Store Perimeter is Simply Old School

Let’s just cut to the chase the perimeter of most legacy grocery stores look, more like yesterday or should we say more like 30 years ago than they should.  Why we ask?  Ok some new display cases and new lighting but the notion that consumers today want to spend all day filling a basket walking around a store is simply Ludacris. 

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru®, Steven Johnson stated “for 20+ years legacy grocery stores have been acutely aware that consumers dislike going to the grocery store and spending 20 minutes just to pick up one or two items.” Consumers have options and saving time is at the top of most consumers shopping list according to Johnson.

What’s even worse most legacy grocery stores continue to utilize category managers whose sole job it is to ‘trick, fool, or confuse’ consumers into buying one product over the other depending of the profitability of the product.  News alert consumers have figured that out.  It is just another reason that consumers are migrating to new forms of fresh food distribution while avoiding legacy grocery stores according to Johnson. 

E-grocery sales are expected to swell from 11.2% of the overall U.S. grocery market in 2022 to a 13.6% share in 2027, according to the 2023 Brick Meets Click/Mercatus 5-Year Grocery Sales Forecast, released last Monday. The estimate reckons an 11.7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for online grocery sales during the five-year period.

While that number is still small considering the size of the marketplace.  It is important to remember that the convenience store sector is growing at roughly 3% in new stores per year and c-stores have 3.5 times as many stores as there are grocery stores.

David Bishop, partner with Brick Meets Click, noted in a previous release “Increasing the number of households who have access to online grocery shopping services with home delivery or pickup could add almost two points to the percentage of U.S. households who buy groceries online.” The simple fact is consumers simply dislike spending so much time in a grocery store and then they still have to go home cook, and do dishes. 

Consumers want grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food. It saves them time and in most cased there are no dishes to do.  If you are a food retailer and your year over year customer counts are not going up its time to edify your grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food platform. Grocerant niche meals and meal components do not belong in the perimeter of your store.

Are you looking for a new partnership to drive sales? Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit: for more information. 

Friday, February 3, 2023

Fresh Baguette Disruptive Marketing to Drive Success


At the intersection of consumer touchpoints that drive change and the consumer we find Fresh Baguette with a new consumer focused branded invitation in the form of a subscription service.  That subscription service has the potential according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® “too disrupt both Panera Bread and Starbucks regional customer base while garnering the attention of consumers for both trial and migration.”  

The team at Foodservice Solutions® agrees that the time has come for a new business model, format or platform that will provide the customer facing touchpoints that will drive the right Price, Value, Service equilibrium that will garner customer adoption in the coffee shop and bakery space this just might be the real thing. 

So, Fresh Baguette, is a modern French Bakery.  They have launched a Fresh Brew Coffee Subscription that will keep your cup flowing. The marketing program began Tuesday, January 31, 2023.  Now anyone can sign up for this new program that offers high quality coffee, cappuccinos, espresso, iced lattes, and more for just $9.95 a month.  That’s right just $9.95 a month.  Wait there is more and it’s the more that will drive adoption by consumers including both Starbucks and Panera Bread loyalist.

Florent de Felcourt Founder and CEO of Fresh Baguette, stated, “Our new Coffee Subscription is a game changer for us and our fans,” …. “We are thrilled to offer this opportunity for our guests to enjoy this amazing deal. In addition, we understand it’s often hard to stop at just one cup, so with our coffee subscription, our guests can indulge multiple times a day at a really great price. Plus, our coffees are the perfect pairing to our deliciously crafted and freshly prepared bakery selections.”

The Fresh Brew Club Coffee Subscription is easy to join. Guests simply need to scan the dedicated QR code available at Fresh Baguette locations or visit the Fresh Brew Club Link. Subscribers may join and cancel any time.

Are You Building a Larger Share of Stomach

Does your brands business model look more like 2011, 2018, or 2022?  Are you top-line sales up as a result of price increases? Is your business model driving an increase in year over year customer counts? 

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

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Grocerant Meal Components with Portability are Driving Food Sales


How are you garnering customer trial and adoption?  What is the cost of your new customer acquisition? If you don’t know according to the Grocerant Guru® you new customer acquisition cost are too high.

So, in a world full of choice consumers are opting to spend more time playing games on their computers, watching sports on their 65 Inch HDTV, phone, texting, talking, and shopping on a device rather than cooking from scratch at home according to Steven Johnson, who is the, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

The simple fact is consumers do not have the skill set to cook the full-flavored meals or meal components that they have grown up with, been exposed to, or sampled at street fairs. Consumers want fast, fresh and flavorful easy meals for dinner, and are looking for meal components that they can bundle into a customized family meal.  

As long as multi-generational family's gather for meals together, the demand for more divergent flavors continues to permeate. Grocerant mix and match bundled meal component offerings allow for increased family integration, understanding and acceptance in less time without a required cook from scratch skill set.

In the 1940's cooking from scratch was the normal. The average home cooked meal took 150 minutes to prepare. Everyone sat down at the table and enjoyed it or not but they all ate the same thing. Today's "home cooked meal" takes on average less than 30 minutes to prepared. In most cases at least two different entrées are served.

The average time spent inside a McDonalds in the 2,000 was 11 minutes. Today 65+ percent of all McDonald's food is sold via the drive-thru. U.S. fast-food chains are increasingly remodeling restaurants in an effort to garner additional drive-thru customers inside and increase sales, simple because the drive-thru can't hold all the cars.

Are you selling grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food that is portable?  How many items on your restaurant menu could be sold as a meal component?  How many items is your store could be prepared fresh and sold as Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared item?  Does your retail food-print look more like 1990?  Where is your customer relevance in the past, in today, or in tomorrow?

There are new companies that can help you evolve from yesterday to today’s with customer facing relevance. Have you heard about Hellometer?   Their service replaces legacy vehicle loop timer technology and helps operators grow revenue using cameras to measure and improve guest service speeds. Cameras in restaurants measure each guest’s experience from the moment they walk in (or drive up) through to order completion.

So, instead of waiting for bad reviews or operating blind, restaurateurs know exactly where and when they are losing revenue due to slow service Managers can quickly diagnose the root causes behind bottlenecks and slow-downs so they can address them. They can see, for instance, that one location has issues with taking orders and can then coach staff that aren’t sticking to the script. They may see that another location struggles with food prep, so they need to retrain their staff.

In addition, Hellometer has partnered with Intel, which allows us to offer restaurateurs a compact form factor (important in cramped kitchens) that delivers performance without the need of a separate graphics processor. In preparation for the launch of Intel’s new 13th gen Intel Core i7 processors, Hellometer is actively developing onto these next gen chips and is so far reporting nearly a 7% increase (30.72 FPS in 12th Gen à 32.80 FPS in 13th Gen) in inference speed.

In short, this technology is cost effective, easy to adopt and high impact, Hellometer enables restaurant operators to improve service speed by 47s on average. According to the operations research, for every 7 seconds stores can improve service speed, they see about a 1% increase in top-line revenue. The average quick service restaurant sees about $1.9M in revenue a year so that 47s improvement from Hellometer will mean about $130k in added revenue per location. Currently, over 20 of the world’s best service brands use and trust Hellometer today.

Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? Email us at: or visit: for more information.

Are you Building a Larger Share of 


Service Speed and Convenience Matter