Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Are Whole Foods and Publix Ready To Team Up?

Better for you fresh prepared food is driving success in every sector of retail foodservice today. Whole Foods is clearly the industry national leader.  Every other grocer would love to sell Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat prepared food the like Whole Foods. Is Whole Foods for sale?
Safeway, King Kullen, Publix and Kroger are positioned squarely in the middle of the grocery / supermarket sector in the United States. That is one place no company can thrive in todays bifurcated marketplace. While each retailer does a good job for what it is doing today. They may not be enough for it’s not about offerings, operations, or new openings the consumer is dynamic not static the industry is evolving faster than most middle of the road retailers.
Simply put there is no lasting opportunity being stuck in the middle. While each offers Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food they are not doing with enough quality differentiation for consumers to notice. On the Legacy CPG side they are simply put Stuck in the Middle.
We don’t need to look far away for examples of what may be on the horizon for these legacy companies that are in quagmire of their own making. This year middle of the road grocery retailers in Great Britain are experiencing a uniquely challenging environment complicated with unwanted declining sales.
Both Tesco and Morrisons are capitulating market share due to management strategies that put them in the middle of the grocery sector in Great Britain. Here is what’s bad, they are capitulating share to Lodi and Aldi each known as ‘discounters”.
Nielsen found In the 12 weeks to 24 May 2014 that Aldi and Lidl continued to outperform in the U.K. market with sales increases of 33% and 22% respectively. Along with Waitrose, they are still gaining market share.
In the United States Aldi is no stranger today Aldi has 1,275+ outlets. They are the fastest growing grocer in the United States. Like the U.K. Publix has discounted companies the ilk of WinCo and Aldi that continue to garner market share everywhere they open. WinCo had increased the size, quality, and positioning of its Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat offering providing additional points of consumer differentiation.
With a bifurcated food marketplace growing even clearer being stuck in the middle is not a good thing. Companies the ilk of Whole Foods, Wegmans, and Metropolitan Market are positioned opposite Aldi and WinCo and will do fine. Others will have to migrate from the middle leveraging Grocerant Niche tactics to elevate and educate brand positioning. Should Publix buy Whole Foods and move into Up-Market Fresh Prepared Grocerant Niche ‘Better for You’ food? Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ says ‘What other choice do they have!”

Steven Johnson is Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based  with extensive experience as a multi-unit operator, consultant and brand/product positioning. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chipotle has ‘Braggability’ Grocerant Niche ‘Braggability’

Chipotle from the start set a goal not be like all other fast food outlets.  They knew doing things the same old way would at best only get the same old results.  Once again a Founder and CEO Steve Ells proved ‘better for you’ food that is portable is valued by customers and cherished by Wall Street.  On the Conference Call Ellis reveled that fully 2/3’s of all sales are To-Go! That’s Grocerant niche Focus Grocerant Success.

When Chipotle reported second quarter same-store sales for restaurants open at least one year recorded an increase of 17.3% for  2014 compared to the second quarter of 2013 everyone took notice.   Most restaurant chains would be very pleased to post numbers even one-quarter of that amount But they don’t!
How did Chipotle that do?  Simple a focus on Foodservice Solutions® 5 P’s of Food Marketing specifically Portability.
Today Chipotle stock is expected to reach nearly to $650.00 a share once again reaffirming that the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food niche is booming.  No gimmicks at Chipotle, No Waffle Tacos.  No Pretzel Burgers simply a focus on “better for you” fresh food for Carryout, Take-Away, To-Go.
Is Chipotle the model for industry success?  We think so, as do Millennials who are attracted by its healthier food offerings and relatively modest prices.  And the chain, increasingly, has pushed its catering business, too. In an Omni-channel retail world Portability (Carryout, Take-Away, To-Go) is a key driver opening up new avenues of distribution.
With two new concepts both focused on Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared that is ‘better for you’ food this company may be leading the grocerant niche success for years.  The new concepts are ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen restaurants.  They are doing very well and many call the concept a hit a hit.  The latest Chipolte concept making a name for its self is in the design-it-yourself pizza arena called Pizzeria Locale it is customer focused, interactive and participatory.

Success does leave clues and Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared foods that are ‘better for you” are a very strong clue. Foodservice Solutions® specializes the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Fresh Prepared Food niche aka the Grocerant niche.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy

Monday, July 21, 2014

Don’t Have Time to Cook from Scratch Visit a Grocerant

So what is a Grocerant?  Foodservice Solutions® Steven Johnson, the Grocerant Guru™ says this "Grocerant means any retail food item that is Ready2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat. Traditionally these items can be found in grocery stores in the deli / lifestyle section, C-stores in the prepared food area and prepackaged, ready to eat items and in restaurants under the To-go, takeout or take away or delivery section of the menu or on the website."
When I say retailer, it is broadly defining supermarkets, mass drug merchants, C-Stores (convenience stores) and fast food or fast casual restaurants.
What is Driving the Grocerant Trend

Its 4 PM: your customers are just beginning to think about what's for dinner. 81% of American consumers are unsure about what's for dinner. Time Starved Consumers are looking for high quality ready to eat foods and ready to heat meals. Today's time starved consumer want to purchase meal components that they can bundle into a customized family meal that will please everyone without spending time cooking.

Examples of Grocerants

Restaurant examples are McDonalds, Pret A Manger Burger King, Pizza Hut, Papa Murphy's and Starbucks, each having a fresh ready-2-eat or heat-N-eat food menu. You may not think of Walgreens as a food destination yet Walgreens sells fresh soft-serve yogurt, coffee and sushi at selected stores, so they are technically grocerants. In the Casual Dining sector Maggiano's Little Italy offers a buy one take a 2nd home for free in their Classic Pastas menu section.

Convenience Store examples are 7 Eleven, Wawa, Sheetz and QuickChek, all of which sell fresh and prepared sandwiches, salads, beverages.

Supermarket examples are Whole Foods, Central Market, Safeway and Kroger… all sell fresh prepared chicken, salads, sandwiches and most offer sushi and beverages.
The retail supermarket and convenience store sector have unique grocerant challenges. Presentation of the ready to eat or ready to heat food is important. When you get a meal at a restaurant, the plate and the food look great… let's call this "food for now". Retailers are primarily selling "food for later" or take-out and unless an item is a sandwich, the looks of ready-2-eat meals and snacks begin to change.
Why is it so hard to package food to go? In the Hot food section of the grocery store the food in most cases does not look appealing so our expectations drop when we get it for Take-Away. In convenience stores like Wawa, the Ready-2-Eat food looks great in the to-go containers. Why?  Simple Wawa puts the entire package together. They exert more control on the look and feel of "food for later".
Around the world we are now seeing sections in department's stores and kiosk in malls in Europe and Asia and airports around the world. The items can range from entrees to side items and deserts. Some examples of items range from fried chicken, mash potatoes, cream spinach, to liver and onions, pizza, hot dogs, steak, prime rib, various casseroles (hot-dish) to salads, side salads pie, cake and any single proportioned deserts. They can be picked up at the specific unit, or delivered.
In summary, a Grocerant is a result of the blurring of the line between restaurants and grocery stores aimed at the time-starved consumer with Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food components that can be bundled into a meal.

Foodservice Solutions® specializes the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Fresh Prepared Food niche aka the Grocerant niche.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Is McDonalds Food Delivery Ready for a U.S. Rollout?

Pizza is the lifeblood of home delivery food in the United States, however McDonalds sales per store are three times higher on average than Pizza Hut and McDonalds is where America loves to eat. The question is when will McDonalds delivery service rollout nationally in the US? 

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ Steven Johnson thinks sooner than later stating “McDonalds has been testing delivery for several years and seems to have figured it out with the rollout of delivery in Australia.

Southeast Asia has been the primary testing grounds for McDonalds delivery including the following countries:
  1. Hong Kong
  2. Signapore
  3. Philippines
  4. Australia
The Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food niche aka the Grocerant Niche is a perfect fit for McDonalds.  Leaders lead and McDonalds understands that the customer is dynamic not static and on the move.  Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ Steven Johnson stated “McDonalds stop practicing Brand Protectionism long ago and that is one major key reason they have exceed globally and will continue.  McDonalds understands that you cannot do what you have always done and stay relevant.”

McDelivery works like most food delivery service.  There is a minimum order amount depending on country but they seem to range from $15 to $25 dollars, the delivery radius is 1.5 miles of the McDonald’s , most test area allow for both weekday, and weekend delivery and are open until 11PM at night.

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing it the same way.  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? via Email us at: or visit: for more information.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Munchery Non-Traditional Retail but Very Fresh Food

With $32 million raised Munchery would hardly called a stat-up by legacy restaurateurs or even many chains. However in the technology space that’s exactly what they are.  This company has been tested in San Francisco, is well funded by the likes Yelp co-founder Russel Simmons, and Yammer co-founder David Sacks and set to expand.

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru Steven Johnson says “Differentiation does not mean different it means familiar with a twist.”   Munchery has that twist.   It makes all the food itself, rather than delivering food cooked by other restaurants.

Munchery has its own kitchen that’s where in house chefs prepare new meals each weekday.  In addition they partner with independent chefs who make meals in their own kitchen expanding menu choice and offerings.

Taylor Soper of  Geekwire described the functionally this way: “Customers can browse through the company’s website, check out what’s on the daily menu and order food to be delivered in the evening either on the same day or later in the week. There is also an on-demand option that allows people to have food at their doorsteps within 20 to 40 minutes.”…

“Another unique aspect of Munchery is that all meals are delivered chilled and are designed to be heated up in either a microwave or oven, if needed. This allows the startup to make food ahead of time and gives customers the option of eating a hot meal at their convenience.”

Here’s a breakdown of how much everything cost Soper when he ordered:
·         Crab cakes $9.95
·         Chili lime beef $9.95
·         Green salad $4.95
·         Wonton soup $6.95
·         Strawberry cake $5.95

Note: Munchery charges a $2.95 delivery fee — you can also get free delivery on all orders for $39/year — so with tax, our order came out around $40.

Munchery is currently available in the San Francisco bay area and these limited zip codes in Seattle: 98101, 98104, 98121, 98122, 98144, 98154, 98164, and 98174.

Foodservice Solutions® specializes the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Fresh Prepared Food niche aka the Grocerant niche.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.

Friday, July 18, 2014

100 Million Dollars, 10 Competitors and 1 Drone: Reasons Not to Open a Restaurant

Love to cook, create, and have a burning desire to sell fresh prepared food? There just might be a better way to make money in the restaurant industry without opening a restaurant? Have you been wondering where the money is to open a new restaurant? Are you ready to sell fresh prepared food?
100 Million Dollars
Techcrunch recently reported that Caviar  a new food delivery start-up is in talks to sell it-self to square for $100 Million Dollars. Simply put restaurant / foodservice start-up cash is migrating to technology start-up’s in a big way. Food customers today are Onmi-channel shoppers today.
 Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™  stated “Restaurant customer counts continue flat or down overall for the restaurant sector over the past four plus years.  One big reason is technology.  Legacy chain restaurants once leading customers with new forms / formats of service, food, and packaging have been reluctant to invest in or leverage technologies that are evolving with consumers.”
Inside the 4 Walls
Many legacy restaurant operators seemingly have a “inside the four walls” mindset coupled with brand protectionism polices more reminiscent of the 1980’s than 2014. Steven Johnson the Grocerant Guru™ says that kind of thinking traps a brand in a quagmire or a footprint malaise that is unresponsive and simply not consumer relevant today.
Customer relevance today can be found at the intersection of Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food, mobile technology, and the 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome.  Brand managers must look beyond the 4 walls, they must not practice brand protectionism.  Brand managers that spend too much time looking back will end up with a brand selling to yesterday’s customers today not today’s customers tomorrow.
Non-Traditional Fresh Food Retailers Leverage Technology

Differentiation means familiar not different. Restaurants are under attack not only from technology start-ups but from Non-traditional fresh prepared food retailers eager to skim customers from the QSR sector who offerings seems more a reflection of the past than the present.
Success from non-traditional retailers the ilk of Wawa who has invested over $650 Million dollars in Florida to build-out a new market focusing on its legendary fresh prepared customized Hoggies. Then there is Sheetz a fast growing chain with its focus on quality Made-to-Order fresh food. RaceTrac is opening a model with even greater emphasis fresh food targeting the fast food sector.
There is a reason that 7-Eleven is the world’s largest food chain they are selling more and more fresh food, leverage technology with consumer relevance while garner attention with free food Give-A-Way’s. 7-Eleven is a very tough competitor. 7-Eleven has found technology that is relevant is not always easy.  However Foodservice Solutions® team thinks they are doing lots of things right and will garner a much larger share of stomach.
Drone Food Delivery

Entrepreneurs are seeking fame and fortune targeting anyone who eats.  That my friends is all of us.  It’s a huge market.  Phil Romano a serial entrepreneur and food merchant extraordinaire who brought us Fuddruckers, Eatzi’s and Potato Flats to name but a few of his concepts clearly was inspiration for many.
That brings us to Amazon.  Entrepreneurs ask how can we do something better, faster and cheaper.  There are few merchants better at that than Amazon.  Amazon wants to start flying their drones, becoming fast flying true food delivery business reducing labor cost, saving time and more attention and customers than any restaurant company to-date. The Amazon service working name has been Amazon Spotlight while Foodservice Solutions® regularly blogs about Amazon fresh food we think no company can discount Amazon’s ability to do what others dare not even dream.
New Fast Food may be Technology Driven
Is your restaurant Full Service, Fast Casual or Fast Food company prepared to compete? Are you positioned for yesterday’s customer today or are you positioned for today’s customer tomorrow? Here check out these well funded start-ups looking to eat your lunch, dinner and breakfast.  You might want to call Foodservice Solutions® for ideations, positioning or brand edification. 
Kitchen Surfing    
Delivery Lean      
Bite Squad          
Spoon Rocket     
Amazon Spotlight

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing the same way.  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? via Email us at: or visit: for more information. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Burger King Delivering Whopper Success.

Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ Steven Johnson  thinks “legacy restaurant chains must evolve from restaurant to food merchants to grow customer counts, top line sales, and bottom line profits in 2014.” 

Burger King with a keen understanding that the consumer is evolving fast and migrating to new points of fresh food distribution is not idly sitting by.  Burger King is proactively inviting more customers to "be your way" by bringing delivery services their way. The fast-food hamburger chain issued multiple releases this week announcing the expansion of the BK Delivers program into four new markets: Atlanta, Kansas City, Mo., Fresno, Calif., and Montgomery, Ala.  

Nathan Chiantella, Burger King Worldwide Inc. manager, for retail innovation, stated:. “As its popularity has grown, we have seen an increasing demand for the program in other markets and the Burger King brand is excited to offer our loyal fans … the opportunity to enjoy the food they love, delivered to their preferred destination.”

BK Delivers is performing well in top markets such as Boston, New York, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and more,” according to Chiantella. 

Customization, Personalization and Mix and Match bundling are hallmarks of the booming Grocerant niche according to the Grocerant Guru™ and Burger King is positioning for Grocerant niche success. Burger King
Customer’s within each delivery zone can customize and order their favorite Burger King menu items by visiting or by calling toll free (855) 673-3725.

Delivery can be for home or office as customers must place a minimum order of “$10 for delivery and can choose from a variety of menu items, including the signature Whopper sandwich, Tendergrill sandwich, smoothies and shakes.”

Customers want Hot food Hot and Cold food Cold so to ensure fries arrive crispy and sandwiches stay hot and fresh, they “developed innovative packaging and uses temperature-controlled bags. Orders must be placed during delivery operating hours of 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Delivery times and prices vary by location.”

BK Delivers is currently available in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Sacramento, Calif., Salt Lake City, San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, Calif., Tucson, Ariz., greater Washington, D.C., and more.

Interested in learning how the 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization  Visit or Johnson, or