Consumers are busier than ever, and their constant on-the-go lifestyles have been a boon for grocery store prepared-foods sales. As shoppers choose to purchase prepared foods, 37% of consumers say the reason they do so instead of cooking from scratch is because they are simply too tired to cook, while 35% say they didn’t have time to cook—up from 30% who said so in 2015, according to Technomic’s recent Retailer Meal Solutions Consumer Trend Report.
But as prepared foods sales grow in popularity, one area that retailers may not be paying enough attention to are refrigerated soups that can be purchased as a grab-and-go item to be heated up later.
Technomic’s Retailer Meal Solutions report finds 38% of consumers’ prepared foods purchases are comprised of ready-to-heat options rather than ready-to-eat ones. For those shoppers, refrigerated soups are the perfect choice.
For retailers, refrigerated grab-and-go soups represent the opportunity to capture on-the-go shoppers who want fast options that are both high quality and delicious. Here are three reasons why they’re an ideal option to put on shelves.
One of the biggest benefits of offering soup as refrigerated portions perfect for grabbing while on-the-go is that retailers can offer more varieties. With soup urns, grocers have to decide which soups sell best and make strategic decisions about which soups to offer on which days. And, since there are a finite number of heating urns that can be used, there may always be someone coming in who finds that their favorite isn’t on the menu.
With refrigerated options, however, operators can put out portions of any number of soups. This allows every customer—those looking for vegetarian options, shoppers who prefer organic or diners who need gluten-free options, for instance—the opportunity to find a soup they love.
According to Technomic’s Retail Meal Solutions report, 33% of consumers say that improved variety would encourage them to make more purchases of prepared food at retail locations. With refrigerated soup, offering variety is easier than ever.
In a similar vein, offering refrigerated portions of soup allows for optimal freshness. With refrigerated to-go soups, noodles and veggies aren’t soggy, and flavors aren’t muted from being heated, then cooled, then heated again. While 55% of consumers say they eat prepared foods within one hour of purchasing, 30% say they eat their foods within two to three hours of purchasing. In that amount of time, soup can cool down dramatically, requiring it to be reheated.
Finally, nearly half of consumers (48%) say they think microwave-safe packaging is important when they purchase prepared foods. This indicates a likelihood of reheating their food anyway; why not start with the freshest possible option—refrigerated soups?
According to Technomic’s Retailer Meal Solutions report, 47% of consumers say that when they purchase prepared foods from retail locations, they sometimes purchase one element of the meal, while other times they buy the entire meal.
Refrigerated soups are perfect for either occasion. Whether someone is looking to pick up just a light lunch of soup, or they want to pick up soup as a side for a dinner entree, refrigerated grab-and-go soups offer them the convenience they want. Plus, grab-and-go soups offer the speed that many shoppers hope for when stopping into the store for a meal. Technomic’s Retailer Meal Solutions report finds that 62% of consumers say that the ability to get in and out of the store fast is important when choosing whether to pick up prepared foods from a grocery store.
By taking out a handful of the steps related to purchasing heated soups, grocers appeal to their busiest shoppers, whose primary concern is the speed of service.