One in four shoppers replaced restaurant meals with foodservice options from grocery stores, an increase of 17% from last year, according to FMI — The Food Industry Association’s “Power of Foodservice at Retail” report.
Shoppers are also cooking at home more often and creating “hybrid meals” that combine premade foodservice items with those made from scratch, according to the report released earlier this month.
"For years, we’ve found that shoppers simply did not think of the grocery foodservice department when planning their meals. But, as shoppers continue to prepare more meals at home, that trend is changing," said Rick Stein, vice president of fresh foods at FMI, in a statement. “Shoppers are creating hybrid meals, which include some scratch cooking with some pre-prepared items. This hybrid meal approach means shoppers want convenience and experience and they are finding it in the foodservice, deli and bakery departments.”
The research showing increased purchases of total deli foodservice is backed by NIQ (NielsenIQ) data that shows spending at deli counters grew 4.2% to $49.9 billion year over year for the week ended Oct. 7. Meanwhile, deli unit sales declined 1.7% during the same period.
The report added that household penetration of the deli foodservice segment was over 70%, with shoppers making an average of 9.8 purchases per year. That trend is expected to continue, as more than two-thirds of shoppers (68%) plan to continue retail foodservice purchases, while one in five intend to increase such purchases.
Sales of foodservice and prepared items also increased to $18.5 billion for the year, up 4.7%. Foodservice/prepared unit sales fell 1.8% over the same period.
Nearly half (47%) of shoppers told FMI that cost was the top factor driving their foodservice purchases. That was followed by taste at 43%; cravings for a particular dish, cuisine or taste at 42; value at 37%; time and effort involved at 35%; availability of options (such as the proximity to a restaurant) at 33%; how soon the meal can be eaten at 26%; and healthy eating considerations at 25%.
The report also noted that there is room for growth in the healthy options offered at foodservice counters. Only a third of consumers were satisfied with healthy options available, while 65% expressed interest in healthy and nutritional options. Similarly, two-thirds said that they also consider at least one nutritional claim while shopping in the specialty bakery department.
"Retailers need to adopt a restaurant-like mentality for foodservice and deli. Present features that shoppers appreciate, including online ordering, easy pick-up and delivery, to boost the convenience factor,” Stein said. “For the bakery, freshness is still a top priority for shoppers as is the ability to round out their meals with items like bread rolls or dessert options. Adding technology features that offer convenience is also part of delivering in-store bakery shoppers value."
Retailers should highlight the comparative value of foodservice relative to restaurants, because shoppers already see it as a good deal, Stein wrote Friday in a blog post co-authored with Steve Markenson, vice president of Research & Insights at FMI. Retail foodservice providers should follow the lead of restaurants by offering restaurant-like amenities. “Topping the list are having a menu available online, enabling advance ordering through apps and offering drive-throughs for pickup,” Stein and Markenson wrote.
The bog post added that 40% of shoppers expressed the need for help with meal planning, opening opportunities for retailers to offer “meal bundles, in-store displays that bring together the ingredients for a meal, providing ideas through retailer apps and more heat-and-eat choices.”