The most-developed supermarket grocerants – which serve gourmet menu items in inviting atmospheres – are retail growth engines worthy of new investments.  Their 11.3% CAGR between 2014 and 2016 culminated in a 8.6% gain in 2016, which topped all foodservice sectors, according to Technomic.

By contrast, c-store foodservice grew by 3.9%, in a tie with fast food and ahead of full-service restaurants.

Three more reasons supermarkets will focus on grocerant growth, according to Technomic principal Wade Hanson:

  • 77% of 2,300 consumers surveyed said that prepared foods are “very important/important” in their choice of a supermarket.  This is a path to potential full-basket shoppers.
  • There’s plenty of headroom to grow.  Retail foodservice currently captures 3 or 4 meals a month out of a possible 90.
  • Consumers see perimeter departments of meat, seafood, produce and prepared foods all “blending together.” For example, Mariano’s “will gladly grill” meat and seafood purchases free of charge between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily.

In convenience stores, premium foodservice now represents 9% of programs, up from 7% in 2015, while basic roller grills edged down to 88%, and customizable offers held steady at 3%. “If this shift continues for five years, we’d have nearly a quarter of c-stores – that’s 30,000 to 35,000 stores – in the premium or super-premium category,” said Mr. Hanson.

Use these insights to guide your grocerant efforts:

  • Heavy users who buy retail foodservice 8-10x per month want prepared foods deals, the ability to pay quickly while food is still hot or cold, close-up parking, and access to food when they want it (such as breakfast in the afternoon).
  • The most-expected supermarket prepared foods are: rotisserie chicken (48%), fried chicken (28%), cold sandwich (20%), potato salad (16%), salad bar (14%), pasta salad (13%), pizza slices (12%), chicken wings and soup (11%), sushi and baked goods (10%).
  • People want a variety of prepared foods made with authentic recipes:  Mexican (22%), Asian (17%), pasta, seafood, and pizza slices (16%), breakfast entrees (14%), Mediterranean (13%), chicken wings (12%), beef and baked goods (11%).
  • People are open to impulse when buying prepared foods in supermarkets – 64% said their latest purchase was totally or partially unplanned.
  • For those who knew what they planned to buy, 55% decided on it earlier in the day.  There’s an opportunity here to sway them with social media messages.
  • The top three reasons for their purchase:  in the mood for it (18%), looked like it would taste really good (14%), it looked freshly made (13%).
  • In supermarkets and c-stores, 80% of consumers perceive “fresh” by appearance rather than menu description.
  • In c-stores, “freshness information” (61%) and “made to order” (62%) are by far the most powerful influencers to purchase and pay more.