Saturday, October 31, 2009

Easy meals, find them at the Dollar General!

Often discussed on this blog the success that Dollar stores are having with food. Here is an example on food as a focus. With a solid marketing focus a Nielsen study reports digital programs are doing the best in store and out.

“Dollar stores once thought of as the place brands went to die are leading the marketing changes: Dollar General focuses on three areas on their website— pets, easy meals and store brands. According to Nielsen, the dollar store is now like Motel 6 (which hasn’t rented rooms for $6 in a generation): less than ¼ of the items sold at so-called “dollar stores” go for a buck or less. Not surprisingly, high- and middle-income shoppers are flocking there looking for bargains, and brands that once scorned the outlet or refused to allow their products to be carried there are courting these stripped-down outlets.”

Easy Meals are now a focus at Dollar General stores. What is your company doing to package easy meals? Where do you place them? How often do you change the offerings? Grocerant meal program assessments are available. What new points of distribution have you identified?

Friday, October 30, 2009

GROCERANTS New food components for a new food wave of options for consumers!

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.

Grocerant food refers to any retail food item that is ready-2-eat or heat-N-eat. These items are sold in Supermarkets, Grocery stores, Convenience stores or Restaurants as To-go or Take Away format, Mobile Food trucks, Kiosk and any meal delivery service.

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 extremely disappointed at the quality, presentation and packaging options now being exhibited at all retailers. Your food offerings are an extension of your brand and your brand promise. It is part of the collections of perceptions in the mind of the consumer, it had better be positive!

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! Success leaves clues, systemic problems can be corrected. Foodservice program assessments and Grocerant planning are available via Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA. If you interested in elevating the quality, presentation and packaging of ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat fresh food program contact Steve Johnson or leave a comment.

Foodservice Solutions® specializes the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Fresh Prepared Food niche aka the Grocerant niche. Visit:  if you are 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

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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Foodservice brand conversions are under way and will continue.

7-Eleven is aggressively recruiting existing Convenience store operators with incentives to swap the existing brand for 7-Eleven’s. The bundle of incentives is rumored to included assistance in financing the remodel & signage package, guarantee lower food cost, and limited time reduced royalties. With food cost fluctuating regional restaurant foodservice companies increasingly are filing chapter 11 bankruptcy in an effort to keep pace with national competitors pricing and buying power.

Grocery store operators have been acquiring regional companies for 20 years and now there are about four major players. Albeit not all of the regional players have changed to the parent companies name, but it is clear from the interior footprint redesign and private label products who is who.

It is now time for the strong niche brand restaurant operators to begin the process of solidifying their position within ADI markets via buying competitors, or franchise operations of ilk niche companies for brand solidification, positive unit growth, distribution and marketing scalability. Success leaves clues and one of them is don’t stand still opportunity is bountiful!

For more or contact information use these links: or contact me directly

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Food Free for all or none at all! The battle for the customer!

The Yum! Brands-Taco Bell restaurant chain announced customers who visit a participating restaurant after 6 p.m. on October 31, will receive one free Black Jack Taco. There is no limit on age, race or sex! On Top of that you can dress any way you want! Taco Bell is going to be a fun place to go on October 31, 2009! On Monday Yum Brands Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain handed each customer a free piece of Kentucky Grilled Chicken as part of its “UNFry Day” promotion.

Why is it that when I go in to Safeway, Albertson or Kroger they offer a free cookie only to children. They understand that sampling is the best way to garner business for a food product. But the Children don’t even spend the money. Yet I am denied a free cookie. On Saturday and Sunday no samples of droughts WHY? Yum brands portfolio of restaurants understands introducing new products drives sales. Sampling free product drives visits. Grocery store operators that want to become Grocerant operators, need to look at there offering and revitalize legacy departments to drive frequency and renew purchasing. Customer loyalty is built on meeting the brand promise and I might say sharing a COOKIE with everyone!

For more or contact information use these links: or contact me directly

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Leveraging Food for success not lost in translation!

Cross-marketing opportunity abounds in today’s world. I want to congratulate Burger King Japan for teaming with Microsoft Corporation and building an eye popping promotion around Windows 7 operating system. This limited time offer (LTO) is perfect to garner attention and focus on a core product! The Whopper is a foundational product for Burger King and this promotion is complementary to heart of the brand. Burger King is on message, on point and reinforcing a qualitative point of differentiation. The seven-patty Whopper offer is staged to coincide with the worldwide hoopla tied to the release of Windows 7, the latest version of Microsoft’s market-share-leading operating system. Microsoft for its part will receive a Whopper of an endorsement.

Nothing is lost in translation when two powerful global brands team up for an LTO. Legacy brands have an obligation to interject fun, excitement while reinvigorating customer interest. Success does leave clues and this powerful bundle of brand messaging will contribute to on-going success of both companies. Most marketers believe that a brand is a promise of value that results in a positive collection of perceptions, and poking fun is positive. Is you brand fun, contributing to on-going value creation. What is your food brand doing to ensure your inching closer and closer to the consumer? For more or contact information use these links: or contact me directly

Monday, October 26, 2009

The food umbrella is changing.

The price, value, service equilibrium is resetting in Grocery stores, Restaurants and C- stores. Each is reconfiguring their ready to eat ready to heat Grocerant niche food product lineup. 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 particularly price which takes the focus away from the consumer. Which in turn has caused a loss is consumer traffic as important as price might be other attributes are much more important. The consumer is turning to the grocery store hot food section (ready-to-eat).

The problem is the grocery stores were not ready for the droves of consumers. The have dropped the ball. The food quality at many Grocery store ready-to-eat & or ready-to-heat departments is reflective of a bygone era of fried food or heat lamp food warm with few qualitative attributes. Operators must understand foodservice customer service in the hot food ready to eat niche, just like all other sectors quality is king! There are of course exceptions like Wegmans, Central Market, A&P and Metropolitan Market. Consumers are experimenting and shopping around; flavor, appearance and authentic quality are all under a watchful eye. The battle for the consumer dollar continues in the Grocerant ready to eat ready to heat niche is on the move. For a Grocerant program review leave a comment or Or Grocerant The Next Big Wave can be found at:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Brinker (EAT) and Darden (DRI) are experiencing an ill equilibrium in branding.

What are your customers shopping for and where? One of the things that happens when a restaurant brand becomes complacent is consumers reduce the frequency of visits. What are the signs of a brand becoming sick? What role does brand protectionism play in the restaurant industry? When brand managers and C-level executives utilize justification and rationalization to explain results you know that what they did, didn’t work. Brand Managers understand that consumers are dynamic not static. Brands must be dynamic as well. When brands play the wait and see game, the only thing they are truly waiting for is the customer to walk into the store. The problem is it just happens less and less. Focusing on price rather than product and product innovation continues to stifle many a foodservice company.

These are difficult times or so we are told. However brands that succeed are bold and truly changing the way they do business. Example: Apple (APPL) and Amazon (AMZN) both have new products both have products that are innovative and cost more than previous ilk products and both companies are booming! Apple set an all-time single-quarter sales record with its Macintosh computers, selling 3.05 million units, accounting for $3.95 billion, or 40% of sales. Apple finished the year just short of the 13 million unit mark for the fiscal year, an improvement over the prior year of nearly 3.3 million units. Amazon can not keep up with production of it’s Kindle which “ has become the #1 bestselling item by both unit sales and dollars – not just in our electronics store but across all product categories on " a spokesperson said.

Brinker International (EAT), which reported first-quarter results Tuesday and owns 1,700 restaurants, most of them Chili's Grill & Bars, said ‘customer traffic fell for the 21st consecutive quarter’. That is over five years just in case anyone missed it! It might be time for some outside eyes or ideations!

Food is not out of favor or flavor! What is out is a style of management mediocrity and compliancy. A brand is a promise that must be on-going dynamic and consumer relevant. The value of the brand is a result from interactive between contemporary relevance of the brand and the consumer. Success leaves clues and we can just look at Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.(CMG) posted double-digit increases in sales and profit for the third quarter on new restaurant openings, menu price increases, and labor and other operating efficiencies

When profit from cigarettes began to decline as a profit generator the vast majority of convenience store channel operators focused on fresh food. Now prepared fresh food is the highest margin and fastest growing sector of there business units. Grocerant prepared food is booming across all channels, Restaurant, Supermarket, Convenience Stores, Dollar Stores, Kiosk and Mobile Trucks. What path is your company on are you following the same course as EAT or are you growing both your brand and your niche! Many companies are doing the latter in the food industry. For assistance in growing or just more about Foodservice Solutions contact information use this link:

For more read this article:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Deliver it to me!

Here are just some examples of where Grocerant style meals can be found around the country that are delivered right to your door. Supermarkets, Restaurants and grocery stores are all getting in on this growing trend of convenience with such variety available why cook? Cracker Barrel into your kitchen with home cooked meals to go! Gourmet Meals to Go Dine Wise makes it possible to enjoy gourmet food to go without ever leaving your house. Furr's offers the taste of home - this is food you grew up eating and the kind of food you'd make everyday if you could. A&P here is adding to its prepared foods menu, with grab-and-go whole meals and a takeout chicken restaurant. Personal Chef to Go provides prepared gourmet meals delivered to your home or hotel.

Enjoy fine dining restaurant quality meals at half the cost! Bruegger's Launches "Meals to Go" Nationwide : New carry-out catering service is a first for Bruegger s. Enjoy take out meals to Go by Mrs. Mack's Bakery & Restaurant, Worcester, MA American Grill Restaurant at L'Enfant Plaza has Thanksgiving to Go Meals for the Holiday. For those families wishing to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal at home, without the hassle. Snuffy's Family Restaurant guarantees one thing: a down-home ... of his new passion for making good, home-cooked meals ... You can even take a meal to go. Visit WPEC for restaurant reviews, directions and special offers for Colombo's Market & Meals To Go in Lighthouse Point, FL. Organic To Go is the nation s first fast casual cafe chain to be certified as an organic retailer in Seattle. You can see that from coast to coast you can find any type of food you like. Grocerant ready to eat or ready to heat is ready for you!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Grab-and-Go is Convenient Meal Planning, are you in the game?

The Grocerant niche food is prepared ready to eat or prepped ready to heat that can be fresh, sous vide /cook chill or frozen, it must have the ability to be portable however. It can be eaten on site, in the car, at the office or down the road at the park. At times it is reheated; it is focused on single serve portions or portions for two. Who do you think is doing a good job currently: Whole foods, Central Market, Speedway Super America, Boston Market, Ralphs, Food Lion, Tesco, Sheetz, Wawa or Harris Teeter?

One of the most interesting new developments is bundling of the meal components it’s a mix and mach game very empowering for the consumer. Consumer’s can buy a fresh prepared sauce, and utilize it on fish, steak, chicken, a burritos or pasta. Two people in a home may use the same sauce on two different entrees! The same can be said for each course of the meal. This mix and match of small portion, fresh identity in quality products makes meal time a time of convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization. A success clue for all the players in this niche is packaging.

Success leaves clues want to know more about Grocerant outlets? Contact Steve Johnson at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions or ask a question via a comment on this blog.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wal-Mart needs a new format, smaller footprint, fresher food and faster service!

5 compelling reasons Wal-Mart needs to focus on ready to eat or ready to heat food within any new format!

1. Freshness, based on how it looks and is presented, visceral presentation.

2.  Bundling, the ability to build your meal with components you want.

3. Individualized portions, power to select quality and quantity of items viewed.

4. Convenience, unit /store location on the drive home from work.

5. Price, ability to evaluate price vs. cost at restaurant with tip, and vs. time to cook from scratch.

Crisscrossing America we are now beginning to see the progressive evolution of the Convenience store into a dinner lane for food aficionados, particularly if you’re in a hurry. This might be something that Grocery stores like Safeway’s new lifestyle stores and Whole foods need to keep and eye on. Will Wal-Mart step up to this challenge as well? For assistance in growing or just more about Foodservice Solutions contact information use this links:

Pop-up restaurants can create quite buzz!

Are you planning to open a new restaurant soon? Have you considered testing out the location?

Chefs around the country are now trying out menu’s new product and locations utilizing Pop-up restaurants. Recently it has been suggested that before a national chain signs a lease that they should “sample” the space utilizing a Pop-up restaurant. I like the idea of extending the brand and building regional buzz with your brand or for a new product.

Many seem to be copping the play book of Ghetto Gourmet which started as an experiment by two brother and turn into a national underground movement. The “Two brothers, Joe the chef and Jeremy the poet, now organize regular get-togethers in a variety of surprise locations, from parking lots to art galleries and private homes. Ghetto Gourmet's customers sign up for email alerts of when and where the next dinner will be held.”

Regional chefs are garnering a following utilizing Email as well. Pop-up food trucks are growing in popularity as well but most have formalized location setting by day of week or time of the day. The consumers drive for authentic foods, interactive and participatory dinning play well into this new movement. Interested in creating a buzz around your brand? Has your company utilized a Pop-up store to introduce a new product? Leave a comment or send me an Email at: I would love to hear haw it worked for you.

Monday, October 19, 2009

American food is no longer just the Hamburger it is a Melting pot of flavors and fun!

The United States is evolving in a foodie’s wonderland consisting of a cornucopia of flavors textures and food delivery systems. We are entering an exciting time where flavor profiles from around the world have entered our foodservice marketplace and blended with traditional American fare to become even more reflective of a contemporize American society. The United States is truly a melting pot of flavors.

A recent Mintel report finds “Mexican food has become so mainstream, it is hardly considered ethnic anymore. Nearly six in 10 respondents say they have cooked Mexican food in the past month. However, it's the Asian and Indian food segments that are driving the market's growth, with 11% and 35% growth, respectively, from 2006-08.

Chain Restaurants golden era’s roots can be traced to the US and yes in large part to the success of the Golden Arches. For the past 30+ years the US has been exporting restaurant concepts around the world. Recently we have witnessed a rise in the number of Global Restaurant chains exporting to there concept to the US. This trend will continue as the US dollar declines in value. The opportunity to success here is unlimited, the operation metrics unmatched and the consumers willingness to embrace different flavors, styles of food and differing modes of food delivery will propel this trend for many years to come. For assistance in growing or just more about Foodservice Solutions contact information use this links:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This is no Turkey, it is a legacy Brand.

The successful run of iconic Gourmet magazine is in this last throws. The announcement that it is going to be ending publication came to many of a certain age as a surprise. It has changed over the years, from my perspective it continue to get better. The editors understood the food consumer, with tested recopies for two! Bundled meal parings and Photo’s that made you want to cook!

Those of us of that certain age also loved and still love to drive US Highway 101 along the West Coast viewing the water, this hills all the while enjoying the great outdoors. Yet, we also love the interstate Highway system. Gourmet is a foodie’s paradise, a foodie is one who has time to cook and even more time to enjoy each meal. There is a new highway for the employees of Gourmet it is the internet, it is an avenue of distribution inching closer and closer to the customer. I am confident that all of the employees of Gourmet will find a place on the new highway. I for one will welcome them when they do.

What is your food brand doing to ensure your inching closer and closer to the consumer? For more or contact information use these links: or

Saturday, October 17, 2009

When the shoe fits its Carrefour vs. Wal-Mart and Tesco!

Foodservice is a demanding and competitive business that we all know. The world of foodservice continues to shrink and the leading players all want there share of each niche around the globe. Extending there brand and into a new niche utilizing existing purchasing power, distributions channels and overlapping support management team members is providing market share gains and strong performance for Carrefour.
Each of the global big three has entered the reduced footprint, ready–to-eat & ready-to-heat grocerant prepared meal niche. Carrefour has launched a new format 300-square meter convenience store in Bangkok, Thailand as a direct competitor of Tesco and in Wal-Mart is up ramping up a convenience store market in China with a new brand "Huixuan" Here in the US Tesco and Wal-Mart are in a battle with Fresh & Easy and Marketside respectively. The US is a very big and growing foodservice market of which the grocerant niche is booming. Do you have ready-to-eat & ready-to-heat foods for a global marketplace? If not I can help. For more or contact information use these links:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Food Operators, even the best fall down some times, a look at Boston Market, Wendy’s and 7 Eleven.

While everyone is looking at the new hot food pizza rollout in Dallas, TX by 7 Eleven I agree that it is a big step forward for 7 Eleven is a sleeping giant of the convenience sector. However they are planning much more! Lets try to peek at what 7-Eveven just might be next in fresh food here in the US. By by roller grills here comes authentic food, foodies can now rejoice and the C-store sector will forever more be changed. CSNews reported in August 2009 that in Australia the new 7 Elevens “stores will offer a range of 45 new freshly prepared food items, developed with market trends in mind. The new offer includes a hot breakfast menu of bacon and egg muffins, ham and cheese croissants, and toasted sandwiches cooked to order, according to the report. Other foods include focaccia, pizza, soups and salads.” The Grocerant niche is filling fast with On-The-Go offerings which are getting better in quality and price.

The restaurant sector new food innovations has been in copy-cat mode for several years. That quagmire of reality is about to end. Wendy’s CMO talking with Brandweek said they too are focusing on “real” food and innovation and consumers could see dramatic pick up of new “real” and new products early next spring. Lane Cardwell the CEO of Sun Capital Partners, Boston Market, bloged this week that his company will start testing competitive consumer relevant products and processes soon then “then move quicker and quicker as we pick up momentum” innovation and new products lead to niche leadership.

It is obvious that fresh food and On-The-Go Grocerant offerings are top of mind in the industry. Innovation and sales momentum will drive consumer into stores for additional trial of product and re-trial for brands. The landscape is now more competitive than ever before. This is a win-win for the consumer. For more or contact information use these links: or

Portable Food makes Grocerants the What, Why and for Whom of today’s food success stories?

Grocerants and grocerant food are fast becoming a big niche, driven by consumers! Grocerant food refers to any retail prepared food component that is ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat available in Grocery store, Convenience store, Restaurant as To-Go or - Take Away, Dollar store, Mobile Truck or Kiosk format.

Grocerants developed as a result in of the blurring of the line between restaurants and grocery stores aimed at the time-starved consumer with ready to-eat or ready-to-heat prepared food components that can be bundled into a meal. Demand by consumers became visible shortly after Eatzi’s opened in Dallas, Texas and now spanning the country in the likes of Sheetz, Wawa, Boston Market, Marketside, Fresh & Easy, Greenwise, Culinaria, Safeway’s Lifestyle stores and Restaurants with To-Go or Take-Away food.

Globally we are witnessing prepared food sections in department stores, Mobile vans and trucks, shopping malls in Europe and Asia. At airports around the world we see kiosk selling meal components or kits. Combined the items can range from sauces, entrees to side items, salads, baked goods and fresh fruit deserts. Some examples of items range from Mango– curry sauce, fried chicken, lasagna, cream spinach, flat-bread sandwiches, steak, prime rib, various casseroles (hot-dish) to salads, side salads and single proportioned deserts. They can be picked up at the specific unit, or delivered.

The Grocerant sector is utilized by a multi-generationally customer base for varied reasons ranging from ease of cooking time, multi-culture flavor profile with unfamiliar cooking preparation formats, save time, portion size. The majority of Grocerant shoppers are looking for portions for one or two people, flexibility of components is key i.e. curry sauce may go on pasta, rice or a baked potato; empowering consumer choice. There is a growing focus on “better for you” aspect within the niche. Most interesting is wide swath in which customers refer to “better for you” while shopping in this niche. Here are just a few examples: less packaging, save time, smaller portions, ability to accommodate entire family taste profile, ability to prepare singularly or family style, price, still a HOME COOKED MEAL. Ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat the Grocerant niche accommodates today’s family in a style that is built for change. Is your company bundling for success? For more go to: or

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Success Steps for Publix’s next brand building concept.

Publix’s Grocery store has established a legacy of success in the Grocery sector. They are very proactive in developing within the grocery store footprint very regionally customer focused grocerant prepared food that is bundled and sold as meal components. These professional ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared foods offering were obviously steps too the success they are finding in the fast growing restaurant concept Crispers that they developed. Publix understands that a brand is a promise, leveraging there buying power, distribution system and knowledge of the market Crispers is positioned to grow.

If one were to look at the Florida market, it would be easy to see how Publix could utilize there strengths in buying power, distribution and prime real-estate to start another authentic high quality restaurant chain. Publix’s ability to deliver with Crispers on the brand promise of authentic fresh salad concept has been proven. It will not be long before they role out the second concept focused on authentic and fresh as well. I suggest that it will be a Seafood dinner house. Publix can propel growth via a smaller footprint in a Seafood dinner house with the same focus on product quality, innovative d├ęcor and leveraging again there buying power and distribution system.

While other national grocery retailers build Convenience stores Publics has carved out a succesful path for themselves. Success does leave clues, Publix is setting an example for other the likes of Wegmans, Safeway, Harris Teeter and others. The convenience store sector is doing the same under with Sheetz leading the way with great grocerant food and free standing restaurant concepts of there own. Restaurant operators must hone there skill set to maintain an edge in the marketplace. Floridians love seafood, just ask Red Lobster. Is your seafood company gaining marketshare? Are you building the top line if not let us know we can help. Foodservice Solutions is Based in Tacoma, WA contact: Steve Johnson for more

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Restaurateurs, Tip your hat at the Pub, Wegmans that is!

Following in the steps of Grocery stores operator Publix’s with free standing restaurant chain Crispers and much copied highly successful foodservice/Grocerant Convenience store Sheetz; Wegmans is opening within it’s large foot print store a full-service restaurant. Wegmans was listed in our Top 6 Grocerants for 2009 previously. If this test goes well, can a free standing unit be far behind. Wegmans already an industry leader in Grocery and industry Icon in prepared ready-to-eat and ready-heat-food is taking the next logical step.

Grocery stores have the ability to leverage both there buying power and distribution system like no one except the top five restaurant companies can. Given the blatant lack of innovation on the restaurant side of food service for the past 4 years; combined with copy-cat product development and bandwagon marketing, is it any wonder why the restaurant industry is closing so many units? Do you understand the under-currents of the industry today? Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions does.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Au Bon Pain is prepared to succeed in the Grocerant niche!

Building on a legacy of success in selling high quality fresh food, viscerally attractive, with a seasonal focus as a repeated tradition positions them for on going profit in difficult times for the industry. Au Bon Pain understands sustainability they live it. With items like Pumpkin Harvest Soup, Butternut Squash and Apple Soup they show they understand the balance between seasonality and seasonal relevance from the consumer perspective.

Most important Au Bo Pain has for a considerable time understood that not all customers can come to them every day and was one of the first restaurant companies to sell food on-line focusing on catering to business for breakfast and lunch. Selling ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared food can be quite profitable following the Au Bon Pain model. Grocerants bridge the gap for the consumer. Grocery stores and Convenience stores are picking up on this trend and getting into the business as well. Success leaves us clues and Au Bon Pain’s success is just one of them from the Grocerant niche. I wish them continued success and am convinced they are going to pick up continued marketshare while other flounder. Foodservice Solutions is Based in Tacoma, WA contact: Steve Johnson for more

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Produce is the key link to consumers understanding of sustainability.

Restaurant operators over whelming believe that utilizing fresh produce in there units provides a competitive advantage in the race for consumers. With sales flat or falling in many sectors a major shift in how companies position there menu and pricing product is underway. What is new is not French Comfort food! It’s fresh produce and the number of addition of fresh seasonal side dishes being offered in restaurants and grocery stores Lifestyle ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared food sections. These options focused on produce also include expanded salad and deserts which include local fruit.

Health, health care, sustainability and better for you foods are TOP OF MIND for consumers today! Companies like Wal-Mart and Safeway have embraced these issues are gaining customers, particularly in the ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared food grocerant niche. What are you doing with your menu positioning? Restaurateurs the ability to move quickly has been your strength. This is an area of opportunity; Foodservice Solutions understands the niche, the opportunity and benefits. Foodservice Solutions is Based in Tacoma, WA contact: Steve Johnson for more .

Friday, October 9, 2009

Is Taco Bell’s staff broken, out of touch or simply complicit in compliancy?

Franchisee’s are partners in all food organizations albeit skeptical most of the time. They are on the front line, most working the stores and talking with the customer. When sales are going well they are a bit less skeptical. However working, living and shopping in the community they understand the needs, wants and expectations of there customers. Some of the industry most celebrated, profitable and long lasting products have come from “renegade” franchisee. The most famous is the Big Mac a mainstay of McDonalds menu. Long gone are the days of the hands on CEO who enabled and empowered success; utilizing a balance of both IQ & EQ for what in hindsight was a perfect and much heralded decision.

Recently we in the industry have watched many blame all results on the economy, there are those who are growing in units, in marketshare and both top and bottom line. Some are in the same niche as Taco Bell. Franchisee only act as a “renegade” when there is an absence of leadership, sales results or open dialogue. Success leaves clues in our global environment many franchisee companies allow a disproportionate numbers of menu variations in global markets than they do in the US market. Why? Is it appropriate? No one can tell me that the marketplace of Tustin, California, Mankato, Minnesota and Portland, Maine are equal in demographic composition. If they are not, then menu augmentation should be permitted. What kind of leadership, vision and understanding will Yum, Brands exhibit with this store in Tustin any ideas?

Franchisee companies should focus on a menu mix for a country not a fixed menu. When leadership is compliance and results are mediocre marketshare is sure to be capitulated. Rare is it today that companies have leadership with that balance of both IQ & EQ. I know of one in the same niche and it is marketshare gainer Chipotle. Interestingly Chipotle is interactive and participatory for the consumer empowering the consumer to design a “perfect menu item” BRAVO! Success leaves clues and the times they are a changing. There is a difference between transitional and transformational times. What time is it for your company? Contact me for more at: or leave a comment below. Foodservice Solutions is located in Tacoma, WA

GO West young man GO West for food opportunities

Alimentation Couche-Tard (ATD) is based in Montreal, CA and is now North America's second-largest convenience store chain. With a network of close to 5,444 stores, the company operates under a number of names including Couche-Tard in Quebec, Mac's and Becker's in other Canadian provinces, and Circle K in the United States. ATD repoted sales of $15.8 billion in fiscal 2009. With a portfolio of units all of which sell food including 80 franchise units of Boston based Dunkin’Donuts.

ATD is on the hunt to grow via acquisition and intends to double it’s number of outlets in Canada and the US over the next couple of years. The obvious target is the western and southern US where the convenience store business is highly fragmented and years behind ATD in operational and product innovation. More important that region is woefully lacking in grocerant prepared foods.

With the Northeastern US filled with quality players like, Rutters, Quickchek, Wawa and Sheetz it will be interesting too see if any of these strong regional players will step up and build a niche out west. I hope so.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Southwest is learning from the Northeast’s successful Convenience Stores.

QuikTrip announced that they are entering the grocerant niche with new expanded stores that will highlight fresh prepared improved food options. Mike Thornbrugh, chain spokesperson is quoted stating "It's no secret that we're changing stripes and moving into the fresh food business". Success leaves clues everyone in the industry has witnessed the success of the likes of Wawa, Sheetz and QuickChek and understands the opportunity at hand.

Uniquely situated in the Southwestern US where big trucks, big cars and big 4x4’s rule the road. QuikTrip is keenly aware that volatility in gas prices and or a dramatic switch to electric cars could derail its profitability. Increasing the focus food, such as sandwiches, taquitos, pastries is a proven path to continued same store growth. What is your company doing to maintain growth?

QuikTrip’s 500 stores nationwide are located primarily in Oklomaha and Texas but has unit in Georgia and Arizona as well. There is a shift in focus occurring in the Convenience store industry according to Jeff Lenard spokesperson for the National Association of Convenience Stores, Most operators now want to be seen in the future as “a restaurant that wants to sell gas, as opposed to a gas station that sells food". If the grocerant niche was not hot enough this sure kicks it up a notch! Contact me for more at: or leave a comment below. Foodservice Solutions is located in Tacoma, WA

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Americans want to eat there way thin!

Recent research on how effective menu calorie labeling is split. One report said it is working and will lead the way for consumer behavior change another from LA says no change has been seen. Those who scoff at menu labeling for calories or fat content, salt or carbs will themselves be laugh out of their C-level suites over time. There are more diet books titles than restaurants in the US. My point is simple, whether they chose to eat items with fewer calories or not is not as important as consumer desire to EAT THERE WAY THIN! Consumer will back menu labeling in cities, town and then statewide. Its time to get ahead of this cure, if you’re a retail foodservice leader. The reality is; times they are a changing, these are great times for brand mangers. They have the ability to move a brand with the consumer creating real time relevance in a tumultuous marketplace.

Grocery stores, Convenience stores and Supermarkets are focusing on the higher margin grocerant prepared meals because that’s what the consumer wants and it’s profitable! They have a short term reprieve from many of these “QSR” labeling laws. However they would be wise to begin the transition. It is with certainty that I predict that companies like Whole Foods, Wegmans, Central Market, Sheetz and Wawa will show considerable leadership. If restaurateurs want to maintain marketshare they will step up on this issue as well.

Contact me for more at: or leave a comment below. For more read this article:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Size does matter today in food retailing.

It’s easy for all food retailers to look back at what has worked or is working in other sectors. What appears obvious today was overlooked or dismissed by industry leaders years before. Consumers however catch on much more quickly, allowing up-start ideations or concepts to grow and develop relatively un-noticed. The grocerant niche is such a niche. Grocery stores have replaced over 10,000 SKU’s of traditional ingredients with 200 or so SKU’s or ready-to-eat and or ready-to-heat prepared foods that are portable. We are witnessing dramatic change in how, where and why consumers buy food. Retailers in the Grocerant niche are experimenting with alternative formats including reducing the size of the retail footprint, most notable is the Franchising Calbi Fusion Tacos and Burritos mobile trucks. Burger Kings Whopper Bar is one example that is being rolled out with a global footprint. In Tokyo, Japan Aeon is introducing 500 new units that range in size from 130-200 sq meters each.

Remember how Dominos was dismissed as a quirk, Papa Murphy’s now with over 1,050 unit the same thing. ROI on smaller footprint operations has proven successful over time. Today growing your brand does not mean larger units. What is important is units close to the consumer with focused products.

Is your company stuck in the past? Is protecting you brand more important than your customer? How often do you say “We don’t do that”? Brand Protectionism can lead to a brands demise.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sustainable Supermarkets and Green Grocery Stores are wanted globally!

Top of the week to you! I was sent the article / research from a friend Linda Williams. The research was conducted in the summer or 2009 by Synovate, utilizing a global footprint and published in what they call “ In: Fact” . Since many of my readers may not have seen this I am going to quote the part of the study that discuss sustainability and green stores:

And no, we're not referring to broccoli! Clearly all-things-green are a major consideration for any business. And with 62% agreeing they would go out of their way to shop at an environmentally-friendly supermarket, that consideration is not misplaced.

This drive-to-green is led by 86% of Russian respondents and 85% of Malaysians. Murphy says Malaysians do react well to companies that are genuinely adopting environmental policies.

"In the last few years we have seen more efforts – and very public efforts – by retailers to bring in environmentally-friendly products and policies like fewer plastic bags and so on."

Least interested were the Dutch but Anita Cox, Insights Director at Synovate in the Netherlands tells us that's simply because it's a given in that country.

"These practices have been in place for ten to twenty years in small stores and around five years in chain stores, so Dutch grocery buyers don't have to go out of their way to buy green."

Across the 10 markets surveyed, 79% of respondents found the idea of recycling facilities in supermarkets and grocery stores interesting. Ninety percent in Brazil agreed it was a good idea, followed by 89% in Serbia and 88% in Malaysia.

Again, the Dutch were nonplussed (31% disagreed it was interesting, the highest score), no doubt because these facilities have been in place for many years!

All of us must be mindful of the public desires for “better for you”. This article published by Synovate validates on a global basis one of the key components in moving forward with new products, stores and messaging within the retail Grocerant food industry. Contact me for more at: or leave a comment below. Foodservice Solutions is located in Tacoma, WA

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Food Private Label Brand Managers Making Private label Brands in the Grocery sector!

George Bernard Shaw said, “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” There is no greater gift that customers that love your food, and will pay for it-but at what price? The consumer does not understand or believe in channel blurring. Channel blurring is only in the minds eye of the Brand Marketer. Here is my formula for establishing customer focused price:

Price + Quality + Service + Portability = Value

Incremental Value = Constantly Changing Menu (Seasonally / Sustainability with creditability).

The battle for the hearts and mind of the consumer is not only between Grocery Stores, Restaurants and Convenience Stores it can be found with in a sector as well. Here are several examples of how Grocery chain private label brand managers are waging the battle for your mind and wallet.

Food Lion gave consumers coupons worth between $1-$10 for purchasing their house brands during is “Private Brand Super Sale.”

German-owned Aldi is moving into Florida to compete against Publix by stocking up to 95% house brands, far above the national average (9.7%) as reported by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI).

Target’s Kathee Tesija, EVP for Merchandising, says 40 product categories have been transformed. Target’s house brands have shown 25% growth over the past five years, with off-price the selling point (usually 30% less than national brands according to Tesija).

Publix is going one further and giving away three of its private label cereals: Buyers of Kellogg’s Special K Red Berries cereal, Special K cereal bars and Quaker raisin, date and walnut cereal can take him the Publix equivalents (Publix-brand raisin, date & walnut cereal, strawberry bars, and crunchy rice & wheat cereal) for free in an effort to get consumers to switch over.

Retailers understand the value of branding, legacy brands are now focusing on the first if the four P’s of Marketing Price! The Grocerant sector is growing in porifts and scope, are you? Contact me for more at: or leave a comment below. Foodservice Solutions is located in Tacoma, WA

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Not your Mothers Roller Grill Please!

The grocerant niche is changing the way America consumes food, where they but it and how it is packaged. If we look around we see the “king” roller grill cooking 7-Eleven testing 45 new menu items according to Convenience Store News. “The new stores will offer a range of 45 new freshly prepared food items, developed with market trends in mind. The new offer includes a hot breakfast menu of bacon and egg muffins, ham and cheese croissants, and toasted sandwiches cooked to order, according to the report. Other foods include focaccia, pizza, soups and salads.”

Building on there successful food program through Asia 7-Elevens test will attempt to bring quality freshness and industry buzz back to the leader in US based convenience stores. It’s obvious that they are now chasing the convenience store leaders like Rutters, Wawa, Sheetz all of whom serve product not from the roller grill like pot roast & mashed potatoes, deli fresh sandwich, pizza, salads and soup. Wow has this niche changed. Grocerant style food, prepared, portable and priced to sell is developing into quite a niche. To learn more on how you to can benefit from this niche contact Steve Johnson at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions where Product SWOT or Positioning SWOT analysis are available.

Contact me for more at: or leave a comment below. For more read this article:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Foodservice retail operators, what’s under your umbrella? Customers Anyone?

Grocery stores, Restaurants, Convenience stores, Dollar Stores, Mobile food trucks and Kiosk are all improving the quality of the food that they sell. The questions is what is quality? Is it better for you foods, meaning less fat, less salt, fewer calories, or a smaller portion? Within the grocerant niche we understand the successful role of each in your niche. Packaging, portability and plate presentation contribute significantly to the success of new product or LTO’s. What role does food & food product authenticity play in the relationship to the consumer choice for success?
Consumer are people and people want to feel connected to you brand and your brand must remain relevant in the minds eye of the consumer. Outside eyes can deliver both top line and bottom line results. Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions focused on the growing grocerant niche can assist you in extending you brand or products success with consumers. Challenging the premise of new ideations, pressing, probing and prodding C-level teams to validate the brands position and path. Grocerant assessments, brainstorming, coddling teams, propelling the future Foodservice Solutions will drive both your top line and bottom line. When category management is not enough, for the right balance between IQ & EQ contact Foodservice Solutions at: 253-759-7869.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Grocerant food is portable and getting better.

Since 1991 at Foodservice Solutions we believe that Differentiation dose not mean different! It means familiar. Consumers young and old are demanding more choice. Today that means they are looking for choice in different ways, at different times. Why people eat and when they eat is paramount to where and what they will eat. More and more consumers of all ages are looking for food with fewer calories, less fat or bolder flavors. Positioning consumer friendly options directly for the consumer is always a win-win. I have now identified five hot button trends/ issues in Grocery, four in Convenience Stores, two in Dollar stores and reaffirmed three in the Restaurant niche.
The confluence of these issues is striking the overlap is most interesting. It appears to me that all of these issues / trends are growing and will contribute to the build out of a new and significant food niche. That niche is the Grocerant niche filled with ready to eat or ready to heat portable foods. One of the over lapping hot button trends is better for you food, another is better for you packaging. Consumers are utilizing new tools to identify, quantify and qualify where and what they will eat. Here are three websites that have become popular with a focus on better for you:
If your not currently cross positioning your product or menu in these new and exciting avenues of information and distribution. It might be time to think about. For more go information on the history of the Grocerant niche follow the first link to: or to learn more about Foodservice Solutions follow this link: .