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Here’s a nibble: How to bolster the grab-and-go category

Snacking is in vogue. Just consider these figures from Technomic’s 2018 Snacking report: 80% of consumers say they snack at least once a day (up from 76% in 2014). And, this trend toward more snacking is here to stay, as 55% of consumers say that in the next 12 months, their snacking habits will not change at all, while 18% say they will snack more often.

The biggest nibblers, it turns out, are young consumers, who are more likely than their older counterparts to snack three or more times per day. Younger consumers are less likely to follow traditional eating patterns, and are more likely to eat whatever, whenever, in order to satisfy their needs, according to Technomic’s Snacking report.

All this bodes well for the continued growth of grab-and-go meals at convenience, grocery, foodservice and other retail stores—58% of consumers say that a grab-and-go or prepackaged food area would be appealing in a retail store (such as grocery), Technomic’s 2017 Retailer Meal Solutions report found.

So why are young people gravitating toward this easy, ready-to-eat food option? Convenience, for one. This is an attractive attribute for late-night college students, or working parents opting to eat out instead of cook at home. It’s also fun, as young shoppers are interested in the experience of dining as much as the food itself. Finally, it’s increasingly healthy, which is important because this cohort believes strongly in eating organic and nutritious food.

Appealing to the grab-and-go consumer

So what can operators do in the grab-and-go category to better appeal to consumers? First of all, operators may want to stock meals that are quick-prep or no-prep and are prepackaged with little or no cleanup. Offerings should also be easy to take on-the-run. Finally, grab-and-go options should be made with high quality ingredients. High-protein snack choices such as lean meat, nuts and granola bars, as well as fruit, bars and veggies are quite popular among the more youthful segment of the population. And operators should have an eye on local, fresh, specialty, ethnic and organic products.

Presentation is key as well. Packaging should be durable to protect foods from leaks and spills, and should be reusable if possible. And because these shoppers are brand-oriented and social-media-savvy, packaging should be eye-catching, sharp and modern-looking to stand out against competitors.

Nutrition labeling is another key element to keep in mind. Younger generations are label readers—they want to know nutritional information, ingredients and “best if used by” dates—it’s important to have an easy-to-use labeling terminal system. This allows operators to place customized labels on grab-and-go food items and quickly make changes when necessary.

The grab-and-go segment is a high-value niche. Those that capitalize on young consumers’ tastes, spending habits and interests will be in a good position to win their loyalty.

This post is sponsored by Blount Fine Foods

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