Fresh Food

Why More Grocers Are Offering Clean-Label Comfort Food Classics

Mushroom pasta
Photograph: Shutterstock

As consumers’ eating habits shift, so do their grocery habits. Taking a stroll down a supermarket’s aisles these days, shoppers are sure to find ample options to fit nearly any dietary desire, from gluten-free to plant-based, low-fat, no artificial flavors, organic ingredients and more. And those expanded options aren’t just limited to packaged products on shelves. They’re in the prepared foods area, too.

Clean-label options—foods made with wholesome ingredients—are becoming more and more common in the deli area. But even though consumers are looking for healthier options, that doesn’t mean they’ll be satisfied with leafy salads and plain baked chicken. Instead, here are a few ways that grocers are making better-for-you, familiar favorites that customers love.

Wholesome ingredients

From macaroni and cheese made with real cheese instead of powdered cheese to soups made with organic vegetables and beyond, foods made with natural ingredients are becoming the new norm. Consumers’ definition of health has changed, and they’re not necessarily as interested in foods that are simply low-calorie or low-fat anymore. Instead, their focus is on quality of ingredients. According to Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, consumers are most likely to look for natural ingredients on menus when they want something healthy, and that carries over to prepared foods as well. Under the clean-label umbrella, foods such as antibiotic-free meats also appeal to consumers looking for healthy options. Menuing items such as Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo with Penne, made with white meat chicken raised with no antibiotics, can be a great way to attract shoppers who want something comforting but better for them.

Clean-label comfort foods

Behind the hot bar, consumers can find an array of comfort foods like fried chicken pizza, spaghetti and meatballs and more. These comfort classics are always a hit, thanks to their craveable flavor and familiarity. Grocers should be sure to offer clean-label comfort foods to attract shoppers, though. For instance, Beef Stroganoff with Noodles, made with real sour cream and mushrooms, or Chicken with Noodles in Marsala Wine Sauce, made with sweet Marsala wine and white meat chicken, provide shoppers with options they know and love, made with ingredients they can feel good about. Another option grocers can menu is Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo with Penne, a classic dish featuring white-meat chicken and broccoli with penne pasta in a Parmesan-garlic Alfredo sauce.

Warm, comforting soups

As fall and winter weather take over, shoppers may be excited for “soup season” and look for their favorite varieties. But not every soup is made the same. For instance, Blount’s Chicken & Wild Rice Soup is gluten-free, dairy-free, low-fat and made with antibiotic-free chicken, while its Green Minestrone Soup is not only ideal for vegetarians, but also a great source of fiber.

Grocers wanting to offer appealing soups should highlight clean-label ingredients as well as health-halo features (no antibiotics, no artificial flavors, etc.). Additionally, consider offering seasonal flavors to appeal to shoppers who want to indulge in the flavors of fall. Chicken, Kale and Sweet Potato Soup, as well as Butternut Bisque with Sage, are both perfect choices for chilly days.

Clean-label ingredients don’t have to be bland or boring. Technomic’s report finds that nearly half (48%) of consumers say they think foods labeled as natural are tastier, while 46% say so for foods labeled as real and 45% say so about clean foods. For retailers wanting to capitalize on the clean-label trend, it’s important not to forget about the prepared food­­ section.

For more tips and ideas for offering new takes on comfort classics in your prepared-foods section, visit Blount Fine Foods here.

This post is sponsored by Blount Fine Foods