Already, 25% of U.S. diners have eaten in grocerants

To consumers, the growing merge of foodservice and retail makes more sense than ever.  The more that supermarkets and convenience stores up their game—to make dining a quality, healthful, innovative, fun experience that is also time-saving and tech-driven—the greater share they’ll earn of expanding foodservice volume across the United States.

A new study of 1,500 consumers conducted by Technomic for Acosta, The Why Behind the Dine 2nd Edition, details some of diners’ path to the plate, as foodservice has grown to account for more than half of the nation’s estimated $1.4 trillion in food sales.

Already, 25% of U.S. diners say they “ate prepared foods in the grocery store dining area” [grocerants] during the past three months, and 57% say they “ate prepared foods at home from a grocery store” over the same period, their research shows. The 25% penetration is impressive, given the newness of the grocerant sector, notes Foodservice@Retail: Grocerants.

Bob Goldin, vice chairman of Technomic, sheds some light: “Supermarkets are catering to the changing preferences of shoppers and their demands for customization. Sixty-two percent of supermarkets now offer customers made-to-order stations along the store perimeter, with some supermarkets incorporating limited service or full-service restaurants into their physical footprint.”

Three demographic groups that say they eat grocery prepared foods the most are: diners with kids (67%), Millennial diners age 18-34 (64%), and Gen X diners age 35-50 (60%), the study data show. 

Today’s eat-healthy trend prompts Darren Tristano, president of Technomic, to issue this call to action: “We can expect to see a proliferation of chains in 2016, limited- and full-service alike, making sweeping menu changes to accommodate consumers’ concerns, from additive-free to animal-welfare claims. To maximize operators’ business and meet these shifting consumer demands, suppliers should invest in modernizing their manufacturing and distribution systems.”

Some tips from the full study:

  • Consider incorporating digital tools that make ordering easier and faster, or adding pick up/delivery for prepared meal choices.
  • Continue to adapt and evolve menus to be more transparent using fresh ingredients and locally sourced, sustainable choices where possible. Promote these ingredient changes on your menu and in your marketing materials.
  • Become a part of your diners’ digital and social interactions by embracing technology to drive consumers to your location, website or app, and actively engage with diners when they are on-site.