Total Meal Solutions Awards: 2019 Honorees Make Mealtimes More Accessible

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Total Meal Solutions Awards: 2019 Honorees Make Mealtimes More Accessible

By Jim Dudlicek - 08/14/2019
Total Meal Solutions Awards: 2019 Honorees Make Mealtimes More Accessible

The end justifies the means — perhaps that’s too Machiavellian a phrase to describe dinnertime.

But in that journey to dinner — or breakfast or lunch — offering consumers a clear, simple route to the solution for their mealtime goal is the recipe for building baskets and driving sales.

It demands the kind of innovation and excitement like that on display in What’s in Store Live, part of the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s (IDDBA) annual trade show, designed as an experiential road map to success.

“The industry has really upped its game in bringing vibrancy to the perimeter,” IDDBA CEO Mike Eardley said at this year’s event, which took place last June in Orlando, Fla. “People are investing in being special.”

And it demands attention to younger consumers who continue to grow in spending power, like those identified in the IDDBA’s own research — Generation Xers, interested in grab-and-go and prepared foods, who focus on “what my family eats and needs. I just really want to get in and out.” Like Millennials, interested in snacks, meal kits and ready-to-eat food, who “never know exactly what I’m going to be eating for any meal; I decide when I get there.” And Generation Z, interested in sustainability, brand awareness and “real food,” who “care about my food, and I know what I am eating and consuming.”

To that end, Progressive Grocer challenged retailers and solution providers to come up with winning meal solution concepts, from grab-and-go, dine-in and meal kits to cross-merchandising, shopper engagement and applications of technology. Further, we wanted to see what culinary influences grocery retailers are leveraging to delight and inspire their shoppers.

What follows are some of the most creative and innovative ideas we’ve seen, and which draw on both the in-store and online shopping experience to best serve consumers in our omnichannel world.

cross-merchandising concept

Winner: Wakefern Food Corp.

Keasby, N.J.

Wakefern’s ShopRite banner has reimagined the art of cross-selling with Meals Made Well, an innovative recipe program that offers easy, affordable and healthy meal solutions. 
Developed to help customers discover better-for-you meal solutions at an accessible price point, the weekly recipes, which are “dietitian-approved and chef-created,” incorporate healthy foods from the retailer’s private label lines and vendor partners. Recipes feature center-of-the-plate proteins such as poultry, fish, meat and vegetarian options, and are marketed to consumers via a wide variety of omnichannel touchpoints, including ShopRite’s website, social media platforms and direct-to-consumer email blasts. 

Most of the Meals Made Well recipes posted on ShopRite.com are “shoppable,” which means that they can be added to a consumer’s online shopping list via ShopRite’s app, or they can be added to a ShopRite From Home order. The weekly recipe themes are also supported with advertising space in the circular. 

According to Wakefern, however, the “secret sauce” in the program’s success is the execution of the program, as the ingredients are merchandised and promoted by the supermarket’s team of 100-plus dietitians. The dietitians promote the weekly recipes with in-store demos (selling ingredients alongside free samples), cooking classes, free recipe book giveaways, and social media posts. This marketing approach marries digital innovation and in-person dietitian expertise to offer customers a truly high-tech and personalized experience. 

The cross-marketing isn’t limited to recipe ingredients, though, as bundled promotions often incorporate nonfood options such as cooking appliances, glassware or other choices.

A highlight of the innovative Meals Made Well program is eye-catching refrigerated meal carts, which offer the ingredients for that week’s meal for easy pickup and preparation. The carts feature built-in video monitors demonstrating that week’s recipe with step-by-step instructions to assist customers with cooking tips. Additionally, select stores offer fully prepared versions of these healthful meals if customers are looking for heat-and-eat options.

By merchandising products to help customers easily gather all of the ingredients needed for a delicious, healthy meal in one location, ShopRite’s innovative Meals Made Well program provides increased access to better-for-you dinner solutions while driving sales, gaining new fans, and building loyalty and engagement among its customer base.

dine-in concept

Winner: Busch's Fresh Food Market

Canton, Mich.