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How to boost soup sales with meal kits

Customers can’t get enough of the convenience and comfort offered by soup. That’s why, in addition to offering a la carte soup in the kettle or hot bar, bundling shopper-favorite soup varieties into a complete meal package with an entrée, sides and dessert is a smart sales strategy.

According to Technomic’s 2016 Left Side of the Menu: Soup & Salad report, 44% of consumers say they enjoy soup from a grocery store’s prepared foods section at least once a month. In addition, 40% of consumers say that when they dine at restaurants, they’re likely to order soup as an appetizer, so there’s good potential benefit for operators to offer soup in a full-meal bundle.

The opportunity for meal kits

When consumers are pressed for time, often the easiest way they can lighten their load is by getting carryout or delivery instead of cooking at home. And increasingly, instead of going to restaurants, those busy consumers are turning to grocery store prepared foods departments for help.

In fact, an impressive 91% of consumers say they purchase prepared foods from a grocery store at least once a month, according to Technomic’s 2017 Retailer Meal Solutions report. And as for why they pick up prepared meals, 37% say it’s because they are too tired to cook, while 35% say they don’t have the time to. For these busy consumers, meal bundles including an appetizer, entree, sides and dessert are quick, easy and convenient for feeding their families. Adding soup as an appetizer provides a coziness and allows grocers to riff on themes, try out new flavors and more.

Soup: versatile and delicious

Popular soup varieties such as tomato and chicken noodle are a no-brainer for prepared foods package deals, as are pairing themes such as Italian wedding soup and lasagna with cannoli for dessert.

And as with the soup kettle, more unusual varieties (such as Thai chicken soup, organic lentil and chickpea or shrimp and roasted corn chowder) are worth offering in the rotation to appeal to consumers who want to try something different. In fact, the a la carte soup program can be used as a tracking and testing device to determine which soups can be bundled most successfully.

Some additional tips for selling more soup both in meal kits and a la carte include:

  • Offering a seafood soup such as lobster bisque or clam chowder along with a seafood entree on Friday, to call to mind popular ‘Friday Fish Fry’ concepts
  • Allowing customers to mix-and-match from a set selection of popular soup varieties
  • Offering a pre-order service for bundled meal packages that encourage customization: shopper’s choice of soup, entree, sides and dessert
  • Serving heartier soups for colder weather or a snow day: Try soups such as beef and barley or baked potato. For warmer months, try gazpacho or chicken ginseng soup.
  • Don’t forget the vegetarian set, which also includes wellness-oriented shoppers who are simply cutting down on meat rather than overhauling their entire diet. A vegetarian entrée coupled with garden vegetable soup or roasted red pepper and smoked gouda bisque addresses these preferences in a tasty way.
  • Many consumers are avoiding gluten, for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, manufacturers have made it easier with fully prepared foods that address the challenges of this specialized diet. These options should be clearly identified in all marketing and ordering materials, as well as at the point of sale.

For operators who want to add soup to their prepared meal kits, doing so in the form of an appetizer is the perfect way to do it. It allows for variety and provides busy shoppers with a comforting, tasty meal.

This post is sponsored by Blount Fine Foods

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