Progressive Grocer

JAN 2017

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82 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | January 2017 Fresh Food Prepared Foods Ready or Not Growth in away-from-home eating means supermarkets must continue to improve their fresh prepared food offerings. By Lynn Petrak I f rotisserie chicken spun a new competitive advantage for supermarkets a couple of decades ago, today's prepared food offerings reflect an even greater turn of fate — and arguably fortune — for grocers. Although competition for the consumer food dollar remains tight, with supermarkets vying with restaurants and meal kit delivery services to provide fast, simple and appetite-appealing meals, the outlook for grocery prepared foods remains positive. Several research organizations project continued expan- sion and success of prepared foods offered in supermarket settings. In an October 2016 brief, Mike Kostyo, senior publications manager of Chicago-based Datassential, de- clared that supermarket prepared food departments are the fastest-growing segment of the foodservice industry, and predicted that the category will grow 3.8 percent in 2017. Prepared foods accounted for 58 percent of the $24 billion in deli sales in mid-2016 and are considered an emerging driver of growth, according to"e Power of Fresh Prepared/Deli," a study commissioned by the Fresh Foods Leadership Council of the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI). Rick Stein, FMI's VP of fresh foods, says that supermarkets are doing well in this area for a variety of reasons. "One thing that supermarkets have to their ad- vantage is that their food safety has been at the high end of consumers' trust," Stein says. "Also, they are differen- tiating themselves because consumers are already buying groceries — they often go to the grocery store, they know where to park, which aisles to go down, which checkers to talk to. So most supermarkets have a good brand already, and consumers know and trust them." Supermarkets also have a leg up over some meal kit delivery services. During his 2017 trend forecast webinar, "Supermarket Guru" Phil Lempert contended that meal kit

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