If the quality is there, grocers have an opportunity to “capture the catering ring” as never before, asserts IRI’s Parker. “One of the things we saw with Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Super Bowl [since the pandemic] was people purchasing more deli meals but for smaller gatherings. You also had people who had never made Thanksgiving before get excited about deli catering helping with the holiday meal.”

Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace, a Melville, N.Y.-based specialty grocer with nine locations in New York and New Jersey, had the quality of its catering nailed down, but it was missing out on sales thanks to an old-school, handwritten catering ordering process and an inefficient online presence.

When it comes to retail foodservice catering operations, “grocers need to be more like restaurants,” says Russell McVeigh, catering director at Uncle Giuseppe’s.

Earlier this year, Uncle Giuseppe’s partnered with FoodStorm, developers of a catering software management system specifically designed for the grocery industry. FoodStorm’s software automates the catering/prepared-foods ordering, production, payment and fulfillment process from one centralized system. 

“Although catering and prepared foods are among a grocer’s most profitable offerings, most grocers still manage these orders using spreadsheets, paper order forms and sticky notes,” the company states. “Their existing e-commerce, inventory and POS systems don’t support the complexities of catering and prepared foods, including managing production, ingredients, lead times and shelf life.”

Since moving to FoodStorm’s software, Uncle Giuseppe’s has doubled its online catering sales, McVeigh told WGB. The software provides a catering-specific e-commerce website to match the grocery brand, order and production management, PCI-compliant payment processing, CRM tools to market and grow the business, and reporting features with a live business dashboard.