Retail Foodservice

Upping the Prepared Foods Game

Are you ready to take the challenge?
Photograph: Tyson

For far too long, food suppliers and retailers have focused on the convenience of prepared foods, and in doing so may have lost sight of its other benefits. Tyson Foods’ research shows the number one driver of purchase intent is if a consumer feels "proud to serve" the product.1 But if convenience means shoppers have to compromise on the very reason they're buying the product—that is, if purchasing prepared foods means they would feel less proud to serve it – how can stores change that perception and increase consumer desire for prepared options?

In Tyson Foods’ Prepared Foods Challenge2, participants found that using prepared foods in conjunction with other fresh ingredients created a new dynamic. Instead of mom working alone in the kitchen to provide a good meal, everyone—including the teenagers—participated in the light prep for the meal. Can you guess who appreciated this time the most? Interestingly, not mom—in fact, it was the kids who enjoyed it most.

Teens in the Prepared Foods Challenge2 said:

  • "It's really good food, now that we know what we're doing and how to make it. We can sit down as a family and enjoy ourselves."
  • "So far we've only had snacks, we haven't even had dinner yet, and I'm already loving today."
  • "Adding your own kind of thing to the prepared foods, it makes it homemade without all the effort."
  • "I like having dinner with my family. All of us are together."

They saved time, shared prep time and ate good food together. Tyson Foods set out to offer the opportunity to have good food—food that shoppers are proud to serve—and in doing so, provided the added benefit of supporting and fostering family time together. Prepared foods met their functional and emotional needs and created satisfaction that, not coincidentally, helped drive repeat purchases and build deep loyalty.

It is also important to note there is abundant research to show that families who gather around a shared meal at dinnertime experience many benefits, including children who are more confident, who perform better in academics and sports, who exhibit more poise and who have significantly lower incidence of a range of destructive behaviors that can afflict adolescents.3,4 But family dinners aren't happening as much today as is ideal, and food suppliers need to engage shoppers in a conversation about it.

Tyson Foods4 asked: What would you get from more family dinners at the table? Brooke, 15, said, “A lot more quality family time and connecting more with them, get to know them more." Her mom commented, “I was sort of shocked. She never said anything about it.”

Retailers and suppliers have an important role in bringing families back to the table again. Let's stop talking about new equipment and product value. Instead, let’s start recognizing the higher order benefits that families seek and need, and talk about the deeper aspirations that are meaningful to them. It's not something we should leave to chance – we need to be intentional in how we talk about meal occasions – be it a family dinner, social snack, lunch break or breakfast on the run.


1 Tyson Foods, Consequences of Failure, 2015, 2016

2 Prepared Foods Challenge, June 2016

3 Tyson Foods, On the Go Study, 2014

4 Tyson Foods, Emotional Trigger Study, 2016

This post is sponsored by Tyson Foods, Deli Division