Grocers’ Future is Foodservice

Chef Steve Pedusevsky (from left), Albertsons' David Sonzogni, Giant Eagle's Brooke Hodierne and Gary Zickel of Mariano's

Convenient meal solutions. On-trend flavors. Culinary talent. Unique experiences.

These are among the ingredients for a successful grocery retail foodservice operation, points driven home by presenters at Progressive Grocer’s Grocerant Summit.

Held Sept. 27-28 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., the summit is focused on the unique foodservice needs of grocery retailers, addressing the challenging make-or-break topics leading to success.

As online grocery shopping continues to gain traction, grocery retailers need to blend the best parts of both bricks and clicks to capture sales opportunities, asserted Alison Chaltas, the global president of P2P for Ipsos in a presentation on “Understanding the Shopper’s Path to (Fresh-Prepared) Purchase.”

Chaltas said grocers need to exploit opportunities in what consumers are dissatisfied about regarding ecommerce, such as delivery costs.

Understanding shopper behavior is key to leverage trends they care about, like transparency and wellness, and growth areas like plant-based foods, quality carbs and healthy fats.

Key growth categories, according to Jamie Phillips, scientific affairs director for SPINS, include grab-and-go soup, Mexican entrees, salads and breakfast sandwiches. Additionally, grocerant concepts attracting attention include ethnic markets like Winn-Dixie’s Fresco y Mas, standalone restaurants like Roast by Whole Foods Market, drive-throughs like HEB’s Tru Texas BBQ, and collaborations like Hy-Vee’s partnership with Wahlburgers.

Shopper Behavior

Tyson Foods took understanding shopper behavior to a new level, launching a year-long “unconventional shopper community” to better understand how people shop and eat. Tyson’s Eric LeBlanc hosted a session featuring four members of this consumer community, which includes folks ranging from singles with pets to couples with kids, to a mom with 10 children.

Now three months in, this effort to better understand eating and shopping habits is expected to reveal how retailers can better position their prepared foods offerings to create excitement and drive sales.

Meanwhile, Millennials and Generation Z are driving “seismic shifts” in shopping and eating, as presented by David Portalatin, VP at The NPD Group.

Millennials are at their peak in restaurant use, but this peak is lower than in previous generations because they’re cooking at home more. Additionally, 13.5 percent of restaurant meals come from retail stores, including convenience stores, Portalatin noted.

“Grocerants are definitely the sweet spot for Millennials,” who crave experiential eating, along with convenience and reasonable cost, Portalatin said.

And “superconsumers” -- those with overindexing demand for certain categories -- present an opportunity for grocers to further drive sales, noted analyst Eddie Yoon, urging retailers to run with concepts that create or grow markets rather than split them.

Other sessions included a discussion by panel of retailer prepared foods executives sharing ideas for best practices; how to create a “culinary culture” to attract top talent to run your grocerant; and the need for grocers to adopt the latest foodservice operations technology for more efficient back of house.

Attendees further enjoyed the chance to network with each other and with vendors who exhibited in the solutions center, where retailers could schedule one-on-one meetings with suppliers while sampling their products.

PG’s Grocerant Summit was co-located with the Path to Purchase Expo, hosted by the Path to Purchase Institute, also part of PG’s parent company, EnsembleIQ.

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