Sunday, May 31, 2009

Today I have several questions on prodcut cost and finnished cost advantage. Forst what sector of the restaurant, grocery or convenience stores sector will see the greatest volatility from the rapid rise of commodity prices? Second up or down any ideas for Q4 2009 over all cost? Third who has the advantage in pricing conveniecnce stroes, grocery stores or restaurants?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Convenience stores and Grocery stores are challenging the restaurant sectors price, value, service equilibrium. Utilizing freshness, packaging and portion size options while improving service and visceral attractiveness; the ready to eat sectors of each is growing. Reconfiguring their ready to eat niche food product lineup, while many restaurant brands cling to the past and focus on “their Brand” not the consumer. The consumer is again squeezed by rapidly rising gasoline prices, time constraints and employment insecurities. Now is the time for restaurant operators vertical integration of consumer trends and habits into menu development not copy cat menu ideations. Differentiation does not mean different it means familiar but with a new consumer inviting twist!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Restaurant chains are in a race for sameness in menu options. Grocery stores can't seem to kick the focus of fried foods. Convenience stores are taking customers from each. Sheetz, Wawa and now 7-eleven is testing quality prepared to order ready to eat foods. The confluence of competitive pricing and copy-cat menu items has created a degree of menu sameness that is lacking of distinguishable differentiation void of consumer appeal with in each sector. This has left the door open for consumer to leverage their prerogative of choice. Sampling new concepts and different formats from Grocerants to C-stores where fast prepared and ready to eat or ready the heat foods are waiting!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Here is a story by Bruce Horovitz, He makes the case for Grocerants there is big change in how we eat, where we eat and how and where we buy food. Bruce is focused on the restaurant side in this article. My focus for grocerants is with ready to eat and ready to heat from restaurants, grocery and C-stores! This is his interesting view:

Restaurants cross lines as they struggle through recession
By Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY
The recession is jolting the restaurant industry to concoct who'd-a-thunk-it products that are redefining what even the industry's biggest brands stand for.
Never mind that KFC's (YUM) middle name is "fried," as in Kentucky Fried Chicken. Its biggest campaign of 2009 is to sell what it calls unfried (i.e. grilled) chicken.
Pizza Hut, whose first name is pizza, is pushing pasta like there's no tomorrow. Home delivered, no less.
McDonald's, (MCD) the world's biggest fast-food chain, is in the midst of rolling out a line of designer coffees — even as Starbucks (SBUX) is peddling value meals.
It gets crazier. Domino's (DPZ) is delivering subs and pasta-stuffed bread bowls. Boston Market, the rotisserie chicken king, is pitching crispy chicken. Arby's (WEN), the anti-burger chain, is hyping Roast Burgers. Cheesecake Factory (CAKE), known for its gigantic servings, is offering "small" meals. Even Morton's, (MRT) the pricey prime steakhouse, has $5 burgers at the bar.
"This is a defining moment for the industry," says Hudson Riehle, research chief at the National Restaurant Association. "The financial crisis has brought with it a redefining of boundaries."
The fallout looks — or tastes — surreal. Many of the food innovations appear to be the opposite of some chains' founding principles, and carefully honed brand image. Could sushi at Taco Bell(YUM) be next?
The driver is how the recession is eating into the heart of the $566 billion restaurant industry, which has seen 10 consecutive months of same-store sales declines and 19 consecutive months of falling store traffic.
"The industry has never faced a period of stress like this," says Alan Hickok, a veteran restaurant industry consultant. "There's never been anything this deep."
As a result, the big chains are spinning out new products about as fast as any time in the industry's history. "There are innovations, and there are spinovations," says Russell Weiner, marketing chief at Domino's. "When you're trying to grow a category, you need to bring in innovations."
Innovations beyond a chain's usual fare can build sales by helping to quash the "veto vote," the person in a group who can stop or divert a fast-food run because they don't want a burger or chicken or pizza. If all three items and more are on the same menu, it can thwart the trip-killer.
This is even more important in tough times, when consumers who eat out take on a "one-size-fits-all" mentality — wanting to go to just one place to satisfy the entire family's needs, says Christopher Muller, director of the Center for Multi-Unit Restaurant Management at University of Central Florida.
Recession-hammered chains have been trying just about everything to lure folks in the door. Gobs of publicity have been given to some for slashing prices to $5 (as Friday's did to sandwiches and salads in May) or even giving away food (as Denny's (DENN) and KFC have done).
But this is a more fundamental change taking place deep inside the restaurant industry's R&D departments. This product mill isn't necessarily about buffing restaurants' brand images. They are just desperately trying to give folks what they want.
"Everyone is looking in everyone else's backyard to see if they can find any green grass," says Dennis Lombardi, an industry consultant at WD Partners. While there are some signs that the restaurant world's troubles are bottoming, Lombardi says, "This is the worst I've seen in the 35 years I've been in the industry."
Menus change with the times
But the new menu items also are about more than bad times. They are also about changing times. Consumer tastes, particularly for better-for-you foods, have evolved in recent years.
No one's more aware of that than KFC. So, last month, the fried chicken chain began undoing the image it's spent years building. It rolled out grilled chicken.
New ads urge consumers to "unthink what you thought about KFC. Taste the unfried side of KFC."
KFC has held nothing back in convincing consumers that fried is yesterday's news. "It's one of the biggest new product rollouts in the history of our company," President Roger Eaton says.
Perhaps it went too big. In a bid to get consumers to try the new chicken, it got Oprah to announce a deal on her TV show for freebie consumer meals. But KFC wasn't prepared for the enormous response. Stores ran out of supply — angering millions of customers.
The chain attempted to make good on its giveaway gone awry with downloadable coupons from its website. But in the end, many customers left empty-handed — and angry. "We didn't project the level of interest that occurred," Eaton says.
But Eaton insists it was worth all the bad press that KFC got over the fowl-up. "There's no one in America right now who doesn't know we're selling grilled chicken," he says.
What's changing at the chains
Other restaurant chains trying to break out of their usual boxes:
•McDonald's is selling designer coffee. It's some stretch from cheap burgers. But the fast-food giant is adjusting to evolving consumer tastes with the rollout this month of McCafe specialty coffee bars in many McDonald's, says Wade Thoma, vice president of U.S. menu management.
Now that espresso-based coffees have achieved "critical mass" with consumers, he says, "It's something we should be offering at McDonald's." That's just the beginning of the chain's beverage plans. It's also testing frappes and smoothies. "We're focused on beverages," he says.
Meanwhile, the burger giant has become a chicken giant. Since adding chicken to its menu four years ago, Thoma notes, "We sell almost as much chicken as beef."
•Pizza Hut is selling pasta. One year after adding pasta to its delivery menu, pasta has become a $500 million business at Pizza Hut, says Brian Niccol, marketing chief. It's on the way to becoming a $1 billion business, he says.
Pasta has been one of Pizza Hut's most successful new products, right up there with Stuffed Crust pizza, he says. It now accounts for slightly under 20% of it sales. While it has siphoned off some pizza sales, it has added to sales early in the week and on Sunday nights, he says.
Instead of insisting that "we're only in the pizza business," Niccol says, Pizza Hut is now asking consumers what they want the chain to sell, and when.
•Domino's is selling subs. The world's largest home-delivery pizza chain last summer started rolling out a line of sub sandwiches. Thanks to that new sub line, marketing chief Weiner says, Domino's posted a slight same-store sales boost in the first quarter.
"The trick is to grow in a place that consumers accept," Weiner says.
Last month, Domino's rolled out five pasta-stuffed bread bowls. Consumers accept that, he says, because the bread bowls are made from the same dough as the pizza.
•Boston Market is selling crispy chicken. The chain once called Boston Chicken is best known for whole chickens roasting on metal spears and used to present itself as the alternative to fried chicken. But in February the chain rolled out so-called Crispy Country Chicken.
The crispy chicken is baked, not fried, but is being directly positioned to compete with fried. "People still crave rotisserie chicken, but they also want different eating experiences," explains Richard Davis, vice president of culinary innovation at Boston Market.
Davis insists he isn't concerned about "confusing" consumers about what type of chicken Boston Market actually stands for. "It's not as if we're trying to replace what we do. We're still a 100% rotisserie chicken concept."
•Arby's is selling Roast Burgers. For decades, Arby's claim to fame has been that it sells roast beef sandwiches, not burgers.
But new chief marketing officer Steve Davis says that in a tough economy, the chain has to consider all options.
So it has rolled out the Roast Burger, a roast beef sandwich that's made like a burger — with lettuce, tomato and burger-like seasoning.
"We struggled with the fact that Americans love their burgers," Davis says. "To tell Americans that they shouldn't love burgers isn't the right approach."
The Roast Burger accounted for 20% of sales in its March rollout.
•Cheesecake Factory is selling small portions. There's one thing that Cheesecake Factory is even more famous for than its cheesecake: the size of its portions.
With same-store sales heading south, the chain raised eyebrows last month with a new menu category dubbed "small plates and snacks." It includes items such as fresh-baked "Pizzettes" at $4.95.
"Folks are more budget-conscious but still want the Cheesecake Factory experience," explains Mark Mears, chief marketing officer. "We're evolving to meet consumer needs."
•Morton's is selling $5 burgers. With same-store sales down 24% in the first quarter, the chichi steakhouse chain had to do something.
One unlikely move for the chain, where checks normally average $97 per person: $5 mini-burgers at the bar. "This is the worst we've been through," CEO Thomas Baldwin explains. "We have to broaden our appeal and drive guest frequency."
And guests now can wash down their mini-burgers with $4 beers.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Target announced this week that it is entering the “fresh food” niche. One would suppose that they continue to track Wal-Mart and notice that 50% of Wal-Mart’s sales come from the grocery side. The question is who will be most affected. I don’t think they will dent Wal-Mart they were first and occupy top of mind for the price focused consumer. I don’t I do think that an unintended consequence of this action will be the solid advancement of Convenient Meal Participation. Targets size and history of price competitiveness will put pressure on branded and private label food staples. It is easy to predict then that the opportunity for all other food retailers will be to focus on Convenient Meal Participation; specifically ready to eat and ready to heat! Grocerant food will continue to grow and define the success of traditional convenience stores operators, grocery stores operators and restaurant operators. Who do you think Target will impact the most by entering the “fresh food” niche?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This blog is going to focus on my specialty: GROCERANTS! Grocerant means any retail food item that is ready to eat or ready to heat. 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. However 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. A grocerant is a result of the blurring of the line between restaurants and grocery stores aimed at the time-starved consumer with ready eat or ready to heat food components that can be bundled into a meal.
Having followed this area for 12 years, I am now mad as hell at the quality, presentation and packaging options now being exhibited. I waked into a grocery store the other day they had macaroni and cheese with a harden crust that was so undesirable I did not want to by a can of peas it the store! This has to change! My goal is to assist the industry in elevating the quality, presentation and packaging of ready to eat and ready to heat foods.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Wow, what a weekend, I might have tried to do a little too much. The trip is a success; I liked what I saw at Shaw’s and was invigorated for this niche at Whole Food in Tribeca. The New York double header (Day Baseball – Night Theater) might have worn me an out a bit. However, now on my way home it the consumer interaction with ready to eat product is so invigorating I know I am onto something. That is why I am blogging. It’s about the consumer. First when the food is presented and looks appealing and is aromatic in the store; what is not to like. I have more questions now than before. Why can’t companies like Kroger and Safeway focus on the food, interact with the consumer and stir the senses like restaurateurs do? What is holding them back? It is not margins? Ready to eat foods have some of the highest margins in the store! Is it the legacy internal systems? I took pictures of each store however the connection to my laptop would not allow me to download them? It keeps reading software error. I will post the picture on Tuesday after I get to the office. Enjoy your weekend, for I will sleep on the plane home!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Top of the Holiday weekend to you! Today is Whole foods New York City; Tribeca. This is my East Coast weekend, eating across the country. When it comes to visceral attractiveness this store has it! They have done a great job! I must admit part of the attractiveness comes from seeing all of the interaction of the customers! The place is packed, but it is New York! I want to focus on the labor metrics! Many grocery stores Deli’s or prepared sections forget about customer service. The individual customer and worry only about “basket size”. I am sure the density of New York and many other urban stores have a greater focus on individual customer that those in the burbs. (where I live). The key that is important is resetting that labor metrics to focus on food, customers and develop a new level of service. Not a labor metrics that is based on the 70’s 7 80’s and focus in on rushing people down the line and not one that solid customer service. This is a great store with outstanding food presentation! Whole foods gets it! Now on to a baseball game and the Theater! I hope you enjoy your holiday, I am trying!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Shaw's in Fairhaven MA a relative new stores tries to be all things to all people again they do have done a very good job improving the visual attractiveness of both the traditional LaCarte food section that does not stray far old school grocery stores hot food sales. They stick to traditional side dishes, salads, entrees, and party platters with the likes of:
Fried chicken, Fresh dough pizza, Appetizer platters meat and cheese, Salads ,Crisp green, coleslaw, potato, Freshly prepared entrees.

The have done much better with what they are calling Meals on Run which is a selection of prepared entrees which can be bundled with other items for a complete Dinner! EntrĂ©e’s range from Steak tips, Orange Chicken, Chicken Parmesan, Baked Haddock, stuffed shells, Chicken Cordon Bleu. In my estimation the food price equilibrium reset here may not be enough to drive the top line sales that they are looking for. However I think they are on the right track. This is a perfect holiday weekend. Has anyone see any hot food to go holiday sales?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tesco continues to struggle in a booming niche of Grocerants here in the USA! Realism is reflected in the customer counts and continued week sales numbers. Using the economy as the focus is an overly simple excuse and justification for missing the mark. The food price value equilibrium is resetting; however that does not mean that service or quality can be void within the offering. Tesco seems to be devaluing the EQ and focusing on the IQ. Since 2005 clear indicators show a growth in the ready to eat ready to heat niche i.e. the Grocerant niche hear in the US. They have consistently been asking the wrong questions of their consumers. What are important the changing consumer habits particularly: HOW THEY EAT, WHEN THEY EAT, and WHY THEY EAT. Most notable is the change in consumer vision and role of food: including social eating, eating economical, environmental eating and eating for personal benefit! It’s time for them to refocus on the American consumer and then they will win.


Steven Johnson is Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions, 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.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why does grocery fresh prepared food look bad?

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.

If you were to by the same item for Take-Away unless it is a sandwich the looks change. Why is it so hard to package food to go. In the Hot food section of the grocery store the food simply 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 to eat food looks great in the to-go containers? They have put the entire package together. What in the world are the rest of the companies doing? Safeway and Albertson are so large yet they simply throw 8 pieces of chicken in a bag and say NEXT! What’s with that?

Visit www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  or http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant  

Steven Johnson is Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions, 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.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fresh Food Value vs Cheap.

The Hartman Group asked this question ”The conundrum for food retailers is how do you market “value” without coming off as cheap?”

 In the restaurant industry if the price drops to low, the customers feel that they have been taken advantage of. When it comes to Convenience stores consumer expect a fare price and fast service. However when it comes to grocery stores consumers expect price, quality and value. However it is my belief that the point of differentiation in all three is service. Restaurants provide warm, efficient and friendly inviting service.

Convenience stores provide a quick in and out and quick service. While grocery stores are locked in to labor metrics of the 1980’s and service is an abstract idea. They simply think if you put it on the shelf that is service! Including and specifically ready to eat and ready to heat as well. Until the service metric is updated any outstanding growth and profitability will be limited a very few.

Visit www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  or http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant  

Steven Johnson is Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions, 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, May 19, 2009

Compelling reason to buy Ready-2-Eat

What is the most compelling reason to buy ready to eat food or ready to heat foods?

1. Quantify, based how it looks and is presented?

2. Price of the food ease of paying for it at the market, evaluate price vs. cost at restaurant or time to cook the same at home?

3. Freshness, does freshness equal value and can it also mean it’s a sustainable product?

4. What advantages do C-stores have over grocery or restaurants? Could it be number of units? Volume buying, Quality control or is it personal service?


Outside eyes can deliver inside sales. What are you bundling with you core products? Who are your customers and where and how can you sell them more? For more Visit www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  or http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant  

Monday, May 18, 2009

Why do consumers want To-Go Fresh.

When I asked about; trying to understand why consumers are flocking to grocery store hot food and restaurant TO-go Food?

I received an interesting comment from Carolina Villascea: It's a question of ROI really. As a consumer, do I prefer to spend my time cooking from scratch leaving less time for family/friends/activities or would I prefer to have the grocery store/restaurant cook from scratch for me?

Where is my best investment of time? Factor in longer working days, longer commutes and that people are becoming very aware of the unhealthy amount of sodium and fat in frozen foods and you may have your answer.

I do believe that there is an underlining change in how consumers see value. In Grocery Stores, C-stores, and restaurants. That value is being determined by a new set of metrics. Included it those is HEALTH -QUALITY, PRICE, SPEED OF SERVICE (TIME) AND APPERAANCE OF THE FOOD. Overriding all of the issues is where the consumer can consume the food. Consumer are on the run, they don’t have time for a full service sit down restaurant. Today grocery stores and supermarkets are winning.

Outside eyes can deliver inside sales. What are you bundling with you core products? Who are your customers and where and how can you sell them more? For more Visit www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  or http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant  

 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

This blog is about Grocerant Fresh Prepared Food

This blog is going to focus on my specialty: GROCERANTS! Grocerant means any retail food item that is Ready-2-Eat or heat-N-Eat and prepared fresh.  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. However 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. A grocerant is a result of the blurring of the line between restaurants and grocery stores aimed at the time-starved consumer with ready eat or ready to heat food components that can be bundled into a meal.

Having followed this area for 12 years, I am now mad as hell at the quality, presentation and packaging options now being exhibited. I waked into a grocery store the other day they had macaroni and cheese with a harden crust that was so undesirable I did not want to by a can of peas it the store! This has to change! My goal is to assist the industry in elevating the quality, presentation and packaging of ready to eat and ready to heat foods.

Visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us ,Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development leverage out Outside Eyes for inside Profits. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mediocrity Grocery Fresh Food Why?

Grocery stores have fresh product in their units, we all know that. They display fresh produce in elaborate displays that only enhance the appearance of the fruit and vegetables.

Then why is it that they allow the hot food Ready-2-Eat to look sub-par much of the time? Capitulating responsibility and allowing mediocrity to creep into the ready to eat isle is a grave mistake. Restaurants understand appearance and time it to service. The lack of food looking appetizing allows restaurants to gain ground in the fight for share of stomach. Appearance = value! Value = higher price! Yes the restaurants win again!


Visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us ,Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

 

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development leverage out Outside Eyes for inside Profits. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Keep Food Stations Clean


Grocery store soup! Wow is this perceived as clean or sterile what do you think?










 
Visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us ,Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

 
Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development leverage out Outside Eyes for inside Profits. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.

Restaurant Brand Protectionism


Restaurant brand protectionism is what many chain restaurant marketing managers focus on and continued to do.  All retail food and restaurant industry research consistency shows that that brand and or “Channel” protectionism is only important to the BRAND MARKETER.  The research concludes it is not important to the consumer.
Many brand marketers are seemingly entrenched (singularly focused) on “this is who we are” or “this is what we do”.  That narrow focus is not in the mind of the consumer. In fact consumers expect a freshness and newness as part of all brands including in menu and points of distribution.
The industry term for all this is channel blurring.  Channel blurring studies repeatedly show that channel blurring is not in the mind of the consumer, it is only in the mind’s eye of the brand marketer. Only when chain brand marketers truly understand that the consumer is dynamic not static will a concept be able to move to the next level or in today’s world maintain market share.
Brand protectionism has stifled, growth, profitability and long term viability of many a chain. Burger Chef, Shakey's are just two names of those chains that were stuck in time and are falling or have fallen to the wayside of success. Grocery stores and C-store leaders are better at experimentation and introducing new fresh food formats, points of distribution and ready-2eat and heat-N-eat fresh prepared food.
 In addition both C-store and grocery stores have leveraged price as a competitive advantage.  McDonalds and Burger King are two brands that are expanding beyond brand protectionism building sales with non-traditional product and points of distribution as we have repeatedly documented here are this blog as regular readers know.

For international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson at www.FoodserviceSolutions.us    His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all.
 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Price Value Service

The price, value, service equilibrium is resetting in Grocery stores, restaurants and C- stores. Each is reconfiguring their ready to eat niche food product lineup and they are looking for new product, packaging and consumer price points that will drive traffic.

 All have noticed a discontinuity in consumer food shopping behavior and all are fighting for share of stomach. Contributing to this displacement is a focus by restaurant chain leaders on short term market metrics and away from the consumer. Which in turn has caused a loss is consumer traffic. The consumer then turned to the grocery store hot food section (ready to eat). The problem is the grocery stores were not ready for it. The have dropped the ball, food quality is slipping and they do not understand customer service in the hot food ready to eat niche! The consumers will not stay long if things don’t improve rapidly. The battle for the consumer dollar continues.
Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development.

We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.

Visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us ,Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development leverage out Outside Eyes for inside Profits. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sperry Candy Company

During the Great Depression, the Sperry Candy Company introduced a timely confection of nuts and chocolate and named it Chicken Dinner, reports Steve Almond in the Wall Street Journal (5/1/09). "Sad to say, Chicken Dinner did not include any actual chicken parts," writes Steve, adding, "But why would a confectioner name a chocolate bar after a Sunday meal?" Well, maybe because it thought carnivores might like an alternative to Vegetable Sandwich, which had been introduced about ten years earlier.Vegetable Sandwich was, in fact, made with vegetables -- "dehydrated celery, peas and carrots covered in chocolate. while it's true that the Vegetable Sandwich probably lived up to its marketing tag -- 'will not constipate' -- it never quite caught on with the public."

 However, Sperry Candy Company was sufficiently satisfied with the success of Chicken Dinner (the label depicted a "steaming chicken"), that it line-extended with "bars called Chicken Spanish, Denver Sandwich and Club Sandwich."Not surprisingly, the Great Depression gave a huge boost to the candy business, with "more than 30,000 distinct brands" introduced.

Back then, many of the bars were regional, sometimes tailored to local tastes and ingredients. That phase ended with the consolidation "by industrial giants such as Hershey and Mars." But what hasn't changed is the marketing of "quick caloric fixes" as meal replacements (e.g., Snickers Satisfies). The concept is of course a perfect fit for today's economy, which as Steve Almond points out, is not lost on fast-food companies, either. "In hard times," he writes, "Americans remain more or less kids in a candy shop."

I want all of you to know that this kind of trickery is not what I have been talking about! It seems that everyone want to get in on the Grocery, C-store Home meal replacement program! I for one think we are moving in the right direction. Here sure are some areas that need improvement! Packaging I bought three items at the Albertson's deli and the trash filled my garage can! How can this be. The packaging cost more than the food. The food did not fit in the packaging, I bought items for two and the packaging could fit food for four!

Visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us ,Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development leverage out Outside Eyes for inside Profits. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Grocerant


Top of the day to you! By way of introduction I am Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, Washington based Foodservice Solutions. This blog focus is on my specialty: GROCERANTS.

 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.

Grocerant food refers to any retail food item that is ready-2-eat or heat-N-eat  / reheat sold in a Grocery store, Convenience store or Restaurant To-go via Drive-thru or Take Away format.  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 Drive-thru  or delivery  section of the menu or on the website.

However 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. 


Having followed this area for 12 years, I am now mad as hell at the quality, presentation and packaging options now being exhibited. I waked into a grocery store the other day they had macaroni and cheese with a harden crust that was so undesirable I did not want to by a can of peas it the store! This has to change! My goal is to assist the industry in elevating the quality, presentation and packaging of ready to eat and ready to heat foods.

Visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us ,Facebook.com/Steven Johnson, Linkedin.com/in/grocerant or twitter.com/grocerant

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development leverage out Outside Eyes for inside Profits. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.