3 ways to increase awareness of food quality

With the ever-increasing number of options for places to dine and shop, it’s essential for food retailers to continue offering the best value they can to attract potential customers. And part of offering a good value is offering high quality food and beverages, as well as a great shopping experience.

But what does “quality” mean to consumers, and how can food retailers use changing perceptions of what quality is to boost sales of retail foodservice items?

Quality is often defined by where a product is sourced from. Quality is also measured by freshness and “realness”—how many of the ingredients of a certain prepared food are natural rather than artificial (such as flavors, colors or sweeteners, for instance).

Eliminate the artificial

According to Technomic’s 2017 Retailer Meal Solutions report, 46% of consumers say that the availability of natural items is important when they’re deciding to purchase a prepared item or meal from a retail store. The perception of quality is higher with natural foods, as these foods are often fresh from the farm or made with clean ingredients.

Ensure freshness

Thirty-six percent of consumers say that retailers offering fresh, made-to-order options would get them to purchase prepared foods more often, according to Technomic’s 2017 Retailer Meal Solutions report. For these customers, a fresh green salad is the perfect example—fresh and made on demand, meals like these are customizable and exude quality since they are tailored to each customer’s specific preferences.

For food and beverages that aren’t made-to-order but are still made fresh daily or even every hour, like hot soups or drip coffee, stickers indicating the time that they were made can be helpful for increasing sales (and, of course, rotating stock to ensure optimum freshness).

Indicate foods’ quality with promotions and signage

According to Technomic’s Retailer Meal Solutions report, an impressive 81% of consumers say that the quality of food or ingredients are important in their decision to purchase a prepared food from retail, while 27% say that higher quality ingredients would encourage them to purchase prepared foods more often.

With numbers like that, it’s crucial to make sure shoppers know the quality of the food on the shelves and in the prepared foods department. Beyond signage near prepared food stations, endcaps and other locations within the store, promotions in newspapers and on loyalty apps can help increase awareness of quality foods. For instance, in a store’s weekly ad, include information about a soup’s locally-sourced produce or organic meats, or send out a push notification to a store’s loyalty app or e-mail newsletter list about new bakery or deli items that are crafted with all-natural options. Highlight house-made components, such as the cornbread in a take-home meal kit, as well.

The good news is that stores are on the right track already: about half of consumers say the quality of retail prepared foods has greatly improved over the last two years, so to continue that trend, retailers can keep doing what they’ve been doing. Replacing artificial ingredients with real and natural ones, offering fresh foods that are either made to order or are labeled for freshness and perhaps most importantly, working hard to ensure that customers know about the quality of the foods being offered are all effective ways to increase sales.

This post is sponsored by Blount Fine Foods