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Retail Foodservice

Retail Foodservice Appeals to Convenience, Health, Freshness

New FMI report reveals consumer habits, perceptions of the sector
healthy food bowl
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

In an age where consumers are cooking less often, yet still desire fresh, wholesome meals, a growing number of retailers are expanding their foodservice programs into top-notch dining destinations to satisfy shoppers’ “what’s for dinner” dilemma.

In line with WGB’s inaugural State of Retail Foodservice annual report, courtesy of exclusive research and insights from Technomic, retailers require tools and analyses to better understand consumer perceptions of the sector and ways to connect with shoppers to continue building their foodservice programs and drive profits.

Food Marketing Institute (FMI) today released an update to its 2018 Power of Foodservice at Retail analysis, naming convenience, health and freshness as the “trifecta” for building a competitive retail foodservice program.

Spontaneous dinner decisions have become the norm, resulting in lower average weekly spending at the grocery store. In the past five years, food spending for meals prepared at home grew by 5%, while that of meals prepared away from home increased 20%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

FMI’s report suggests that grocers can tout the convenience value of retail foodservice to assist shoppers in their weekly menu planning. According to the report, nearly two-thirds of consumers already incorporate time-saving solutions when preparing dinner, such as mixing scratch cooking with value-added meat or heat-and-eat side dishes.

“Our research shows that an overwhelming 65% of consumers have not made up their mind on what to eat for dinner by 4 p.m., so this trend of consumers partnering scratch-cooking with time-saving meal accompaniments aligns well with grocers’ merchandising and marketing strategies,” FMI’s VP of Fresh Foods Rick Stein said in a statement. “The research also shows that those loyal supermarket foodservice consumers give high marks for healthy choices, affordability and the ease of shopping the store combined with their foodservice purchase.”

Seven in 10 shoppers emphasize healthy, nutritious choices when ordering from retail foodservice or restaurants. Many also emphasize the importance of options in the deli/prepared foods department, led by healthier ingredients (85%), clean label items (83%) and in-store health and nutrition information and/or education (71%), according to the report.

“Food retailers who embrace health, quality, convenience and another critical lifestyle consideration—a more digitally-engaged foodservice consumer—will be the most successful in this competitive landscape as solution providers,” said Stein, citing the study’s findings that shoppers who eat out an average of three times per week are more likely to use technology for dinner planning.

FMI surveyed shoppers about their dinner routines, channel choices, the importance of promotions, technology, health and wellness and assortment in addition to recommendations on how their primary retail foodservice department could improve.

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