Fresh Ideas for Family Meals

In a study conducted late last year on fresh-to-go meals, The Coca-Cola Co. identified several ways that retailers can maximize sales of such offerings. With National Family Meals Month coming up in September, grocers could use these findings to encourage parents and their children to eat together more often.

According to the study, “most shoppers of fresh-to-go meals have children,” notes Carrie Williams, senior manager, shopper insights for Atlanta-based Coca-Cola. “These families buy fresh-to-go because they are busy and it’s convenient.” She further points out that most fresh-to-go meals are eaten at home, especially for dinner, making them a natural fit for National Family Meals Month.

Regarding the meals, Williams says, “One of the most important needs for fresh-to-go consumers is that the food is [actually] fresh, which can be conveyed with fully stocked displays or ‘made by’ dates on packages.” No doubt driven by convenience, consumers prefer ready-to-eat meals to heat-and-eat offerings, she adds.

Further, since most people enjoy beverages with their meals, it makes sense for grocers to offer them conveniently close by. “Beverages bring extra value, given single-serve’s variety and ability to be tailored to a food item,” observes Williams. “Just under half of those buying a beverage in store are purchasing a beverage in the deli area – consumers want a ‘fresh’ beverage to go with their fresh food, even if they are taking their food home to consume.” However, she continues, “When shoppers choose a beverage with their fresh-to-go meal, 21 percent drink bottled water, 18 percent choose soda, 6 percent choose iced tea and 6 percent choose juice/vegetable drinks – yet most fresh-to-go store areas are not currently stocking these items, causing shoppers to hunt for their beverage of choice or [choose] to drink tap water (14 percent).”

To make the most of these opportunities, Williams recommends the following actions for retailers:

  • Ensure that an assortment of food options is available to meet the varying needs of shoppers.
  • Offer a broad range of single-serve beverage choices that pair with local fresh-to-go food offerings.
  • Focus on both out-of-store and in-store marketing to drive awareness and help grow shopper loyalty for fresh-to-go meals.
  • Enhance the shopping experience and meet shopper needs by highlighting the convenience of fresh-to-go meals through tasty and appetizing merchandising solutions.
  • Promote value through combo specials that aren’t price-driven. Instead, feature food and beverages that pair well together, or highlight a new food and/or beverage item.

Read more about National Family Meals Month in the July 2017 issue of Progressive Grocer.

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