Sunday, January 31, 2010

Takeaway food propels frequency, loyalty while enhancing the brand!


Understanding the value of each daypart, provides a platform for food retailers too extend service to existing customers. Super Max utilizes this knowledge to grow sales, increase profits all the while building loyalty and frequency of its shoppers. The homemade soup pictures above, besides tasting great, looks authentic, and is real homemade. This authentic touch point provides just the platform for building a halo of fresh, good and authentic that allows Super Max to sell food from the deli every hour the store is open.

All grocerant fresh prepared food programs need a mainstay product. That product can be entrée with identity that provides the halo for the entire program. Communities all have preferred flavor profiles, grocerant programs need to incorporate those attributes into lasting products with identity.

Super Max consistently provides a mix and mach set of food options for consumers to chose from that complement each other. They do it each and every daypart. On each trip to Super Max the deli prepared food area has been busy. Interestingly, while sitting eating inside at the Super Max Deli other customers would suggest something or tell of one of their favorite items. This happened repeatedly with out prompting. Unusual, I think so, each told why they come, how often and why they will be back! That my friend’s is brand loyalty.

Foodservice Solutions based in Tacoma, WA is the global leader in the grocerant niche. For product, or program assessments or winning strategies within the grocerant niche call 253-759-7869.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Food retailer Super Max understands ready-to-eat meal bundling!


Photo taken by Steve Johnson it's not the best my fault not Super Max

In San Juan, Puerto Rico grocery retailer Super Max continues to build customer frequency utilizing grocerant style ready-to-eat foods to drive traffic. In the urban core of this wonderful old city Super Max has focused on hot food offerings in the deli area by daypart to build a vibrant grocerant business.

Incorporating choice in components options within each daypart, consumers are empowered to select flavor, texture or protein of choice. During the AM or breakfast daypart they feature a choice of four types of hot cereal and bundle the cereal with a coffee offering that is priced so well that I have never seen less that 4 people in line between 6 AM and 7 AM at a time. Having visited for three consecutive days, I have to say I just want too go back as well. The food is good, the feel is homemade and the service is respectful.

Super Max understands the need for service as well. The line is designed to move along in well for each daypart. The speed of service and consumer focus on choice is reminds me of Wawa’s AM coffee program, empowering, full of consumer choice of flavors and fast service.

For more insights, or if you a need a grocerant program review or grocerant assessment? Contact Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about Steven Johnson: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or www.grocerants.blogspot.com

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat prepared fresh food is convenient meal planning!


Were talking, the Grocerant niche. Food that is prepared fresh ready-to-eat or prepared ready-to-heat that is fresh or can be sous vide /cook chill or in some cases even 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. Of course it can be bundled into a catered banquet for work or at home parties.

One of the most interesting new developments in fresh prepared food is meal bundling. Meal components are bundled into a meal by the consumer. 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 burrito 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 is a mix and match of small portions, each with it’s own identity yet, allowing eash person creating a new unique meal of quality fresh food. This is what makes the grocerant niche meal time convenient meal participation, with differentiation and individualization. If success leaves a clue this is one of them.

The Grocerant trend continues to grow and in many avenues of distribution you can find niche sector leaders. What is most exciting are the new points of distribution of quality ready-to-eat food. In Asia Convenience stores assemble meals on site and many others get delivery of fresh food three times a day; focused on the next meal period. With 7 Eleven and Family Market leading the way. With this focus on freshness and quality consumers are paying respect by spending more and more money on food at C-stores globally. Department stores are a source for grocerant food in Asia and Europe with outstanding displays of quality prepared foods. Pueblo and Super Max in Puerto Rico are doing an excellent job addressing the needs of today’s prepared fresh grocerant food for consumer.

Interested in an international tour of niche leading Grocerant outlets? www.FoodserviceSolutions.us of Tacoma, WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche providing Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat program assessments aka Grocerant Niche assessments. 1-253-759-7869 or linkedin.com/in/grocerant or leave a comment below.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Meals Made Easy, Spartan Stores sews seeds of success.



Foodservice Solutions focus  is on the consumer, Spartan stores understands the consumer and food retailing and is working it’s winning ways within the grocerant prepared food niche.

"Meals Made Easy" program, launched earlier this year by Spartan is see success according to Alan Hartline, EVP of merchandising for the Grand Rapids, Mich. The meals made easy program “comprises bundled dinner ingredients to feed a family of four for about $10. At the heart of Spartan's Meals Made Easy program, is "a multi-temperature fixture on an end cap that allows all mealtime items to be brought together within the different temperature states, so customers don't have to run to the various departments for the meal components."

Positioned across from the self-checkout aisles in front of the store, the setup is ideal "for consumers looking for quick and easy meals," "They can grab and go, and shoot out the self-checkout in arguably less time than they could at a 7-Eleven."

For more insights or if you a need a grocerant program review or grocerant assessment? Contact Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about Steven Johnson: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or www.grocerants.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

It’s a great time to be a grocery store or supermarket deli!



Unemployment in the US is stuck at a unproductive level and economic conditions don’t’ appear to be improving on the street. While consumer spending is in a funk, restaurants continue to see declining sales. One are of upside is the grocerant niche with fresh prepared foods better for you food that is portable and ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat. They are found in abundance in the grocery and supermarket deli’s.

Bill Cross and the excellent staff at Food Business News and Broad Street Licensing recently said this.
“Grocers are seeing 7-10% growth in sales of prepared items, largely at the expense of restaurants. In the past, grocery stores had been losing out steadily to restaurants, with 48.5% of total food expenditures in 2008 spent away from home. Now things have shifted, with the National Restaurant Assoc. estimating restaurant sales will be off 1% in 2009 (conservative if you ask me).

In order to attract the restaurant customer, Albertsons has pegged their in-store prepared foods to the slogan “Simply Good Meals,” grouping foods together for easy menu combos and placed in the “4:15” sections in line with the time busy shoppers are looking to put together dinner.

Southern California chain Stater Bros. is adding two kinds of meatloaf for those wanting “comfort food,” but also offers carnitas and chicken teriyaki.

With trips to the supermarket steadily declining, the challenge for retailers is to keep value and not resort solely to price cuts. Chains like Stater Bros. and Albertsons have slashed prices 20% on many items, and have reported lowered earnings as a result, though some chains like Kroger report profits up. The leader in providing prepared meal innovations is Tesco-owned Fresh & Easy who features a line of meals intended to feed a family of four costing just $8. While the category can be popular and lucrative, retailers are sometimes unsure how to capitalize. Consumers think the foods are prepared on-premises (they aren’t), and some shoppers resist paying premium prices for no-name or store-branded prepared foods, so moving beyond five varieties of egg or potato salad can be a strain on supermarket supply lines.

Finally, attracting good food prep talent to work in a supermarket has been an uphill battle.But expect more market share and "share of stomach" to go to the grocerants.”

Need a grocerant program review or grocerant assessment? Contact Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about Steven Johnson: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or www.grocerants.blogspot.com

Monday, January 25, 2010

Food retailers in 2010 winners will see US same store year over year growth.



Winston Churchill once stated: “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.
Consumers have increased there spending at grocery stores creating discontinuity in the restaurant sector. Yum brands has several concepts that are lagging within there niche in the US restaurant market. Yum’s focus on international growth too appease Wall Street investors has created quite an opening for there domestic competitors.

“Nearly 7 in 10 Americans (69 percent) think having better choices in the drive-thru at quick service restaurants would encourage them to eat better, according to the newly-released "America's Drive-Thru Survey"* commissioned by Taco Bell® (NYSE: YUM) to examine Americans' drive-thru attitudes, behaviors and beliefs. Additionally, only half of Americans (50 percent) believe they can stick to a low-calorie diet while ordering through the drive-thru at quick service restaurants, while nearly 9 in 10 Americans (89 percent) would like to try better choices of their favorite menu items if they were offered.”

Here’s the rub, what consumer say they want to eat and what they buy have proven over the years to reflect quite a divergence. In the battle for share of stomach the retailer who best positions a blended set of better for you offerings with and equally blended consumer related marketing messages will win.

Abandoning one for the other simply will not work. Grocery stores and Convenience stores are focusing on the same set of issues. The successful players will create new items with identity that drive sales by daypart and region. Yum must understand Convenience stores and Drug stores now have Drive-Thru’s as well selling prepared better for you grocerant style food.

For more insights or if you a need a grocerant program review or grocerant assessment? Contact Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about Steven Johnson: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or www.grocerants.blogspot.com

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Multi channel food retailing, the way to go in 2010!


Convenience stores, Grocery stores, Drug stores and Restaurants are all creating new fresh prepared menu items with identity that are portable either ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat. These branded entrée’s or side dishes can be leveraged creating additional opportunity.

When successful menu development will create additional points of distribution via new channels of distribution. This is a brilliant way to extend the brand, the product and profitability. New channels are where current customers go and future customers of the brand will come from.

Consumer are not burdened with problems of channel blurring. Channel blurring is only in the mind of the brand marketer. If brand marketers are seeking top line growth and bottom line profits extending the brand into all channels will contribute to success. Brand marketers now have up too 7,000 new points of food distribution to contend with in the grocerant niche. Walgreens is entering the fresh food prepared and portable niche!

Running and hiding from consumers is not a strategy it is simply a failed tactic! This is 2010 not 1970 consumers are dynamic not static your brand should be as well!

For more insights or if you a need a grocerant program review or grocerant assessment? Contact www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  of Tacoma, WA the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about Steven Johnson: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or www.grocerants.blogspot.com

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Top 3 Rules Restaurants Need for Competing Against the Grocery sector.



Here is a question I received this week: “I’d love your take on something like “The Top 3 Rules Restaurants Need for Competing Against Grocery.” Unless, of course, you think those rules are 1. Run, 2. Hide, 3. Call your mother.

Let’s give this one a shot! There is no doubt that competition for share of stomach is at a fever pitch in retail foodservice. When commodities price stared to fall in late 2007 and continued falling in 2008 every sector of the industry took short term advantage. When that simple strategy played itself out BAM; the race to lower price’s building marketshare began. Many complacent C-level executives could not contemplate just how wide spread and successful this would be.

Grocery stores and supermarkets dropped prices, consumers noticed and returned in droves. Restaurants responded first, Subway with $ 5.00 foot long. Now it a $3.00 bundled meal everywhere you look. Here’s the problem the first to raise prices now will lose! The focus on price is heighten; and the focus on price increases by media outlets will be even greater. That’s the set up, here’s what restaurants should do:

1. Innovate with new product, reduced calories or salt and portion realignment!

2. Green Packaging, less is more!

3. Re-tune Service, provide additional service to new niche consumers.

Grocery stores have the advantage of lower bulk pricing. Consumers are flocking to prepared food counters where sales are up 7.5 - 9% year over year! One problem, they are selling food from yester year, with and obvious lack of service!

Restaurants, particularly McDonalds have rolled out free Wi-Fi; they will start seeing customer linger at the tables. They need to provide additional levels of service to this new and developing following.

For more insights or if you a need a grocerant program review or grocerant assessment? Contact Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about Steven Johnson: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or www.grocerants.blogspot.com

Friday, January 22, 2010

Food retailers must mix & match flavor and points of distribution for success in 2010.




Differentiation does not mean different in the foodservice niche, it means familiar. Consumers young and old are demanding more choice. Today that means they look for the 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. Going forward rood retailers must utilize a new set of metrics for success.

One good example of a vertically integrated ready-to-eat and or ready-to-heat quality portable -grocerant style food program that is not limited to traditional Restaurants, Grocery stores or Convenience Stores is run by Uwajimaya.

Uwajimaya is a pan pacific Supermarket chain that perfectly integrates ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat grocerant style prepared food into their weekly, monthly marketing advertising programs. Uniquely position they integrated a multi-ethnic ready to eat advertising with all other department products into their Flyers, radio and in store messaging.

The ability for them to focus on items the likes of “Draper Valley” Fryer Wings to “Niko Niko” Humbow and Mongolian Beef Sandwich is outstanding. Understanding product integration and channel blurring, Uwajimaya successfully mixes traditional and niche specific products in an inclusive style that is consumer friendly while being inviting and intriguing. Positioning consumer friendly options directly for the consumer is always a win-win.

Consumers are utilizing new tools to identify, quantify and qualify where and what they will eat. If your not currently cross positioning your product or menu in these new and exciting avenues of flavor, or new points of distribution. It might be time to think about.

Need a grocerant program review or grocerant assessment? Contact Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about Steven Johnson: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or www.grocerants.blogspot.com

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Prepared food, Ready-2-Eat and heat-N-Eat, delivered in 2010!


Recently I was asked by Gilbert Stouyenot what I think of a concept “where the completely table ready dinner is delivered instead of having to pick it up?

Several years ago there was a company call Ez2get that delivered Ready-2-Eat meals from restaurants to homes nationwide, however they are no longer around. Not because consumer’s did not like the service, they were early stage Dot.Com in the niche and the “dot com” funding dried up, such is life at times.

Delivery request have not diminished, in fact more and more companies are either providing the service or contracting the service than ever before. The Grocerant niche with  Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat better for you portable food is the next step for delivery!

Evolving delivery bring fresh prepared meals directly to the consumer on the national level is the next step. Currently companies like Boston Market and California Pizza Kitchen (with bright yellow catering vans)are doing just that and Whole Foods in New York City. Watch for Wegmans and Central Market and others to join in and I would think the Whole Foods will roll the same program out in other metropolitan areas to start then system wide.

Regionally around the US you can find Restaurant Delivery Service (RDS) that provide ready-to-eat meals from local restaurants directly to your home or office. It would be a natural extension for them to reach beyond restaurants and into the grocery prepared food area. Success leaves clues and one of them is consumer want more service of all types not less. Catering office lunches, company picnic’s or bundling for tailgating parties with food that is better for you is a natural evolution of delivery in grocery deli's.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about Steven Johnson: Contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or FoodserviceSolutions.us  http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or  Grocerant program assessments available.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Price Value, Service, equilibrium is resetting in retail foodservice.



The price, value, service equilibrium is resetting in Grocery stores, Restaurants and Convenience stores. Each is reconfiguring their ready-to-eat ready-to-heat offerings prepared, portable, better for you food in the grocerant niche. Have you been racing to the lower and lower price points? Why? The race to bottom, only provides a longer road to the top.

If incentive is not a dollar value; what might it be in your niche?

1. Speed of customer service or delivery

2. Freshness of product

3. Portion size

4. Availability

5. Limited time offer-sample new product

6. Minimal packaging / or green packaging

7. Lower salt, Lower fat, lower calories

8. Consistency

William Gibson quote: “The future has already arrived; it’s just not evenly distributed.”

The future is here the paths are clear and if you not maintain marketshare or growing, you just might be missing out on what others understand. Should you be looking for new products, packaging and or consumer price points that will drive traffic? Have you noticed a discontinuity in consumer food shopping behavior? How are addressing the competitive industry food fight for share of stomach?

What is role does Incentive play in your consumer’s decision to buy food. Most importantly, what role does it play in going back to the same location or your brand, time and time again? Grocerant program assessments can identify, qualify and quantify non-discounting incentives or program opportunities.

For more information contact Foodservice Solutions in Tacoma, WA Building top line sales and bottom line profits for global clients and regional players. I create the market strategy and tactically develop for business/partners, alliances, and customers on a global basis.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Can selling restaurant products in grocery stores create channel blurring?


Should restaurants sell proprietary products in grocery stores, supermarkets and convenience stores? Outstanding foodservice companies rely heavily on research from industry knowledge experts like Technomic, Nielsen and The Hartman Group. Each understands the consumer, the food niche and to some extent branding. Having spent all of my career in the foodservice niche, never have I seen a study that says there is any channel blurring! All studies on the contrary see more advantages than disadvantages to selling multi-channels.

The questions should center around how to best bridge the challenge of established customer deferred buying. If the consumer is in a different channel of foodservice, then should your brand be available as an option? This includes retailers that are selling grocerant ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared, portable foods.

Ron Ward calls this the “brand experience gap”, that is to say the gap in time between visiting their restaurants and enjoying a great meal within the four walls. I say yes, chains need to strongly consider entering new food channels with branded product. This is a growing trend not only here but on an international level.

Companies around the world are having success while extending their brand. Here is one example from outside the US. “http://www.nandos.com and check out their 'Grocery range. This highly successful restaurant business is the fastest growing fast, casual restaurant group(outside USA) in the world. They have focused their grocery product on long life sauces. This is working very well for them. Bridging the challenge of deferred buying” by established customers.

When your visit nandos.com please click on the books, the one on the shelf, the pots, pans even the window. Page per page this company understand the consumer, the need food focused interactivity and consumer participation. Restaurant brands today need messaging to be vertically integrated in the unit, in service, in menu, on the website and channels.

Understanding ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared, portable better for you food niche is just what we do. Need a grocerant program review or state of the industry assessment? 

www.FoodserviceSolutions.us of Tacoma, WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche providing Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat program assessments aka Grocerant Niche assessments. 1-253-759-7869 or linkedin.com/in/grocerant or leave a comment below.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Restaurant consumer discontinuity continues!



Growing quickly is the number of new locations that sell grocerant style ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh prepared, portable food. Recently Walgreens announced that they were going to rollout fresh prepared food. In one single move 7,000 competitive points of distribution entered the market place.

All sectors of the restaurant industry have seen declining sales including the Quick Service sector. Many foodservice pundits thought that the consumer would simply trade down and that niche would excel.. Here again Foodservice Solutions was on target and the multitudes were again wrong. We have said it before and will say it again. Copy Cat menu ideation and bandwagon marketing are a result of compliancy and mediocrity of C-level executives. How many places do you need to buy a $1.00 double burger?

Winston Churchill once stated: “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

With Walgreens entering the fresh prepared food area, creating up too 7,000 new points of distribution Convenience stores and Grocery stores will both take sales hits as well. If Walgreens focus on small portions for seniors and coffee products lookout, weak players in each niche will fall away.

Currently the new winners appear to be Casey’s General stores, Quick Trip and 7 Eleven in the C-store sector and Publix’s, Safeway and Kroger in the grocery sector. The restaurant sector has new leaders as well Buffalo Wild Wings, Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill. Positioning your concept for success is an art and takes understanding, not a chance. Winners will differentiate themselves and show the way. This breakout trend began in 2005 and continues. It will be a slow and painful process for some, the rest will be having the time of there lives!

Foodservice Solutions is the global leader in the grocerant niche. You can follow Steve Johnson on Twitter, Facebook or linkedin as well. To read more on restaurant consumer discontinuity read Steven Johnson article via the following link: http://www.anything4restaurants.com/blog/index.php/2009/07/restaurant-consumer-discontinuity-the-consumer-moved-first/

Saturday, January 16, 2010

7,000 new Grocerants coming!



Top of the day to you all! We have been waiting for this story to become "official". Well here it is an article by Carol Wolf of Bloomberg entitled:

Walgreen Plans to Offer Fresh Food, Prepared Meals  By Carol Wolf

Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Walgreen Co. plans to offer fresh foods and prepared meals to draw “time-starved” shoppers to its more than 7,000 stores, taking on retailers such as Target Corp. and Kroger Co.

The drugstore chain has been talking with foodmakers including Unilever NV, Nestle SA and Sara Lee Corp. about creating private-label and branded products, said Bryan Pugh, vice president of merchandising.

“Everyone is time-starved and we have the most convenient 7,000 locations in the U.S.,” Pugh said in a Jan. 11 telephone interview. “They’re on-the-way-home destinations that are easy to get in and out of and will provide a good value.” He declined to say when the project will be implemented or how much it costs.

Walgreen, based in Deerfield, Illinois, must sort out supply and distribution issues and test in some markets before introducing freshly prepared foods such as salads, cut fruits, ready-to-bake pizzas and sandwiches into more stores, he said.

The goal of the program, along with the sale of beer and private-label wine, is to boost revenue, Pugh said. Same-store sales declined in November and December as 10 percent unemployment and falling home values blunted consumer spending.

“If they can get consumer acceptance, this would be good for sales,” said Andrew Wolf, a Richmond, Virginia-based analyst with BB&T Capital Markets, which recommends that investors buy the shares. “Consumers aren’t used to buying salads from a drugstore chain. That would have to change.”

One-Stop Shopping

The move will push Walgreen into competition with supermarket chains Kroger and Safeway Inc., membership warehouse clubs operated by Costco Wholesale Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and retailers such as Target. Walmart’s supercenters sell prepared foods including ready-to-bake pizzas.

“You’ve also got convenience stores and gas stations trying to go in that direction,” said Bob Goldin, an executive vice president at Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based food industry consulting firm.

Walgreen “does have a lot of stores, but I don’t see it as being a venue of choice for consumers,” Goldin said. “It will be hard for them to establish credibility in freshness and variety. I don’t see it as being a big business driver.”

Target, the second-largest U.S. discount store, is expanding its food offerings in general merchandise stores under the name PFresh. PFresh stores will have fruit, ground meat and other fresh foods, as well as pre-made sandwiches, salads and other prepared meals in the store’s Food Avenue area, said Jana O’Leary, a spokeswoman.

Adding PFresh Stores

“Our customers asked for an expanded food section,” she said. “We want it to be a one-stop location for all their needs.”

Target has 108 PFresh stores and plans to have 350 by year’s end.

Walgreen hired a director of fresh foods, who will begin work in several weeks, Pugh said. He wouldn’t name the person.

“We won’t get our customer every day on the way home, but if we could get 50 percent of our customers one day a week on the way home, that would do wonders for our sales,” he said.

Pugh, 47, previously worked for Tesco Plc, the U.K.’s largest retailer, and helped design Tesco USA’s Fresh & Easy Neighborhood markets, which offered freshly prepared meals.

“Fresh & Easy conceptually was a home run, but it hasn’t worked out in the field,” BB&T’s Wolf said. “The stores lacked ambiance and were in low-rent, C locations. Walgreen’s has A locations. They really do have the best locations in the U.S.”

Private-Label Wines

Walgreen is selling private-label wines at about 1,500 locations. It sold more than 200,000 bottles, at $2.99 a bottle, since the line, which includes chardonnay, cabernet, zinfandel and merlot, was introduced in December under the Southern Point name, Pugh said. A $5.99 private label will be offered in April, he said.

Stores carrying beer and wine have higher average sales per person, he said. That purchase alone pushes up sales in a shopper’s grocery cart as much as 60 percent, he said.

“Beer and wine are proven winners for drugstores, but not proven fixers,” Wolf said. “What’s for dinner will be much trickier to pull off.” The challenge is attracting enough customers to keep the fresh food turning over and finding space for the new products in already crowded venues, he said.

Walgreen fell 51 cents to $36.60 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares rose 49 percent last year.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about Steven Johnson: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or www.grocerants.blogspot.com.

Is resizing the new normal for Grocery, Restaurants and C-stores?



How times have changed. With the resetting of the foodservice price value equilibrium well underway we are seeing company after company shed units that don’t generate profits and some companies are forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy to resolve problems.

The most interesting is the success that 7 Eleven is finding. They are rolling out new units and have hired a team of business development professionals to assist them recruiting existing operators from competitors to join there team that is rolling out grocerant style ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food to great success.

Both Bi Lo Grocery and Bashas filed in the grocery sector this year. Here are two companies stuck in the middle of the grocery niche without enough differentiation to stand out for consumers. The same occurred this week the 69 unit restaurant chain Daphne’s Greek Café. The casual dinning sector is experiencing difficulty along with most of the others in restaurant sector.

What is clear is foodservice companies that have quality better for you prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food that is portable are going to continue to gain share.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about Steven Johnson: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or www.grocerants.blogspot.com.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Foodservice growth drivers have not changed, it’s all about grocerant prepared food!



The world of food and foodservice appear to change a lot from week to week and year to year. What has not changed is according to us at Foodservice Solutions is the driver for profits, consumer frequency and top line growth, all remaining the same. That is grocerant ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared food that is better for you and portable.

Foodservice Solutions is not alone in our mantra; the CEO of Tecso speaking at a conference in a session entitled “How Leadership, Loyalty and Transparency Fuel Growth” Sir Terry Leahy Said "The world hasn't changed in my view," Leahy said. "Customers still want a better life

That includes “ Convenience: With people facing time constraints, convenience stores such as Tesco Express and 7-Eleven; ready-made meals and snack foods; and self-scanning terminals are all answering the call for convenience, according to Leahy.

• Tie that with consumer seeking a simpler life style the stated “ People don't just want more and more products. They want problems in their lives solved. So those businesses, services and processes that actually solve a problem, they're the ones that are going to be rapidly adopted." In France Supermarket Chronodrive is a Drive up grocery store, and they are taking off . They blend simple with a drive up and sounds like the USA, but it’s not. This concept is simply efficient.

The growth of prepared, ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat portable better for you foods is a global trend. We have worked with companies with global footprints on the grocerant niche and large independents operators in nearly every niche. With one finding: Prepared, Portable food is Profitable!

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about Steven Johnson: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or www.grocerants.blogspot.com.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Foodservice Solutions is the global leader in the Grocerant niche!



Cultivating a brand is more important that managing a brand. Brands are dynamic not static, they develop and grow with our consumers. Understanding the unique balance between palate, price, pleasure and the consumer’s drive for qualitative distinctive differentiated new messaging places Foodservice Solutions in a select industry grouping

During the past 15 years we have developed over 5 billion Dollars in new avenues of business revenue for clients and companies. Identifying distinctive differentiated programs, positioning and consumable’s by day part that reflect the brand, industry trends, consumer preferences not fads is an area that we particularly excel. The food value proposition equilibrium for the consumer today balances; better for you, flavor, and traditional products all blended into something with a twist. In industry speak, differentiated does not mean different to the consumer it means familiar.

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. Outside eyes can shed new light and assist in your pace of growth, redevelopment and deployment of your new products. Do you need help understanding the new success metric’s within retail foodservice?

Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about Steven Johnson: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or www.grocerants.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Gen Y likes portable ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat foods.



Focused on the future food retailers must pay attention to Gen Y shoppers. With a highlight on quick, easy and a seeming laser focus on simplicity. The grocerant niche will develop with and mature with this particular group of consumers.

The level of “outside” noise and distractions ever increasing the opportunity for distraction and new areas of interest are simply shifting. Saving time while increasing flavor profiles in food selections will contribute greatly to the development of the grocerant niche. On the go people want on the go solutions.

William Gibson quote: “The future has already arrived; it’s just not evenly distributed.” Food retailers that understand that the benchmarks and drivers of food retailing have changed, will be winning food retailers.

What will never change is evolving definitions of hot button issues on “sustainability”, "local" and “green” each will expand until they become as generic as organic. Value will continue to play a pivotal role with the success of food retail brands, particularly in ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat grocerant prepared foods.

Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about Steven Johnson: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or www.grocerants.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Defining or defending your food turf; where are you?



Clearly the convergence of legacy food retailer’s traditional food turf and those repositioning new niches into fresh food arena is creating discontinuity among shoppers. We are witnessing and ever increasing number of fresh prepared better for you food products introduced into traditional channels. Specifically Grocery retailers and Convenience store operators are offering, ilk niche products in the grocerant prepared food niche that directly competes with traditional restaurant quick service chain offering, limited service and full service meals.

Priced competitively with ever increasing food quality improvements, grocery and convenience stores have placed the restaurant sector into a battle for share of stomach. All of this has created and ideal situation for consumers. Particularly in number of new food outlets selling fresh prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food, while price points continue to fall in each sector.

I see no easing of competition during 2010. With unemployment lingering around 10% and gasoline prices continuing to rise this battle will last well into 2011. Even then, new points of food distribution will be well established in the minds eye of the consumer.

There will be winners and losers. Chain restaurant franchisees and regional grocery stores will lead among the losers. Winners will be proactive restaurant chains and national grocery stores chains the likes of Safeway, Kroger, and restaurant companies Buffalo Wild Wings and Subway. The surprise winner could just be a couple of regional convenience store that focuses on fresh prepared food and growth. That niche is directly competing with QSR’s, providing quality, choice and price bundling time savings with quality food. Where are you defining your niche or defending it?

Foodservice Solutions based in Tacoma, WA is the global leader in the grocerant niche. For product, or program assessments or winning strategies within the grocerant niche call 253-759-7869.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Food Bandwagon Marketing: When Fools Jump In?


When foodservice marketers don’t know what to do they play follow the leader, any leader? They don’t appear to care about their own brand, or customers. Under pressure from the CEO they simply copy what is working for someone else, implementing short term tactics. That leads their brand no where fast.

Recently Joel Cohen stated that “Discounting is the penalty you pay for being unremarkable”, I got it. The quagmire that many food retailers find themselves in is a direct result of unremarkable goals, brand positioning, lack of or simply no consumer research. I was contacted by a CEO of a food retail chain who asked if I had any idea why his company was lagging in their niche (Grocerant Niche Ready-2-Eat or; Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food)?


He told me that they were testing “table service”. When asked why? There was a long list of rationalization. My response was direct and simple BS then rationalization is not justification.


That got me to think about the new 5 P’s of food marketing. Price, Product, Place, Portability, and Promotion the 5 P’s are the framework that brand managers and chain leaders can control the value of the brand, albeit limited to their ability and willingness. The objective is to make decisions that focus the 5 P’s on the consumer generating perceived value and ongoing relevance for the consumer i.e. building brand value and ongoing customer loyalty.


Ready-2-Eat and Ready-2-Eat food is a dynamic niche. Companies today need new consumer research focus. They need to establish new and moving benchmarks. Food consumers have hundreds of thousands of additional points of food distribution to choose from today than they had 15 years ago. Focusing on benchmarks of from years ago or a consumer data from 1999 in today’s world will end up getting a company in trouble fast. Customers are dynamic not static.


Recently we have witnessed from the food retail community Bandwagon or Copy-Cat marketing! For example Kids Eat Free or the $5.00 price point! Companies the ilk of Fuddruckers, IHOP, Tropical Smoothie, Boston Market and even Holiday Inn. Simply put both the long term or short run  Copy-Cat marketing is flatly UNREMARKABLE.


When marketers are more worried abouBrand Protectionism  than following the customer’s, sales lag, profit dip and customers wonder. Copping promo’s such as $1.00 cheeseburgers or kids eat free will never produce long term results. It’s no wonder that the Grocery and Convenience store sectors are garnering a larger share of the consumer’s food dollar more importantly growing share of stomach.


www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  based in Tacoma, WA is the global leader in the grocerant niche. For product, or program assessments or winning strategies within the grocerant niche call 253-759-7869.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

2010 Hot button issues for food retailers.



Since 1991 here 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 look for the 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. Grocery, Convenience Stores, Dollar stores and Restaurant are all positioning food as better for you. Only in America do consumers believe that they can eat themselves thin!

Here are the 2010 Hot button issues for food retailers:

1. Unemployment continues to be a drag on all sectors.

2. Higher Gas prices are creeping back and another drag on all sectors.

3. Uncertainty on Health care cost are holding companies back or so they say.

4. Industry consolidation in each sector will create new competition.

5. Competition across traditional channels –Food channel creep

Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about us: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or leave a comment or question below.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Seven keys to customer experience Think Food



When I read something good I learn, so I wanted to share this article written by Bruce Temkin.

Despite the economic difficulties in 2009, we’ve seen a significant uptick in real customer experience efforts. What do I mean by real? Efforts that address systemic issues like poorly designed interactions, broken processes, outdated business rules, insufficient customer insight and cultures that are far from customer-centric.

This will likely be an even more active year for customer experience. While many companies will make substantial progress, others will falter. Here is some advice for keeping your customer experience efforts on track in 2010 and beyond:

Drop the executive commitment facade. It’s very easy for executives to say "customer experience is important." But it’s much more difficult for them to dedicate the time and energy required to make it a real priority. So in 2010, executives should either get actively involved in customer experience transformation or drop it from their agendas.

Start here: Develop a customer experience dashboard and manage the results with the same energy that you manage financial results.

Acknowledge that you don’t know your customers. When market research teams require long lead times and expensive projects to answer questions about customers, too many organizations go without this insight. But the path to customer experience success requires significantly deeper customer observations. So in 2010, companies need to develop voice-of-the-customer programs that provide ongoing and continuous access to customers' desires.

Start here: Create a voice-of-the-customer program with a cross-functional team that focuses on four "LIRM" components: listening to customers, interpreting the feedback, reacting to the data and monitoring results from actions over time.

Keep from getting too distracted by social media. Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites may seem sexy, but they aren’t the only channels for customer feedback. Other channels like comments on surveys and call center feedback can often provide even richer hints. So in 2010, companies need to learn from social media feedback, but not overreact to it.

Start here: Treat social media as one of many listening posts in a comprehensive voice-of-the-customer program that examines both structured and unstructured feedback.

Stop squeezing the life out of customer service. My research shows that consumers care more about good customer service than they do low prices. It also turns out that many customer service interactions are critical "moments of truth" that drive customer loyalty. But companies often treat customer service as an unwanted stepchild, focusing almost exclusively on aggressive cost-cutting. So in 2010, companies need to start viewing customer service as a strategic asset.

Start here: Measure customer service organizations based on how effectively they help customers instead of efficiency metrics like average handle times.

Restore the purpose in your brand. True brands are more than just color palettes, logos and marketing slogans, they’re the fabric that aligns all employees with customers in the pursuit of a common cause. They represent a firm’s raison d’être. Unfortunately, many companies have lost this sense of purpose in their brands. So in 2010, companies need to redefine their brand and embed it in the hearts and minds of all employees.

Start here: Translate your brand into promises you will make (and keep) with customers across every key touch point.

Don’t assume employees will get on board. Employees are often the most critical element of any customer experience effort. But firms can’t just hope that everyone will participate in these change initiatives. So in 2010, companies need to actively focus on engaging employees at every level across the organization in their customer experience efforts.

Start here: Communicate (a lot) about "why" customer experience is important and allow employees to participate in defining "how" to make improvements.

Translate customer experience into business terms. My research uncovered a strong correlation between customer experience and loyalty. An average $10 billion company can generate $284 million of additional revenues from customer experience improvements. But most companies don’t fully understand the link between customer experience and business results. So in 2010, companies need to identify how customer experience impacts their financial results.

* The author is vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, with a focus on customer experience. I like this and wanted to share it will all of you.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fresh Ideas Group: 2010 Consumer Trends Forecast: The New SHEconomy



Restaurants, Convenience stores and grocery stores battle for share of stomach. Consulting groups battle for attention. I happen to think the Fresh Ideas Group released some that directly related to the grocerant prepared food niche. I would like to share them so here they are:

“Men in the Grocery Aisles: With more men bearing the brunt of the down economy, and more highly educated women outearning their husbands, men also will be adapting to a new role that may very well include more cooking, shopping and child care.

Pragmatic Plates: Restaurant eaters will continue to trade down from pricey to pragmatic in their dining out choices, making cheap but hearty ethnic eateries and down-home diners more appealing than fancy white tablecloth dining destinations. Look for a proliferation of affordable noodle bowl and tacqueria restaurants and a big push on roving restaurants in Airstreams and former burrito trucks. Grocery grab-and-go choices will expand and grow in both natural and grocery channels as families increasingly dine around the home table, even if the food is microwaved.

Pint-Sized Palates: Kid foodies with sophisticated palates are challenging their parents to keep the menu interesting. FIG predicts product introductions featuring unusual twists on everyday kids' favorites like gourmet PB&Js, Asian-influenced easy lunches, Mexican-themed snacks and beverages and also increased culinary change on the school lunch menu as well.

"Nonprecious" Organic: Organic foods will continue to land and expand on the shelf in mainstream grocery chains from Target to Costco to Safeway while private label organic products in Whole Foods Markets and Trader Joes will make increasing one's organic shopping share more affordable than ever before.

Pass the Soda; Hold the Sugar and the Energy Drinks: President Obama has proposed a "soda tax" on sugar-sweetened drinks, Renegade Lunch Ladies led by Chef Ann Cooper are ousting chocolate milk and high fructose corn syrup from cafeterias, and health-aware parents are reading labels more closely to reduce their children's sugar consumption. FIG predicts a wave of new and reformulated lower sugar products for kids of all ages and believe high fructose corn syrup will soon land in the same place as trans fats, demonized and disallowed.

Supercharged Foods and Calories That Count: Truly nutritionally charged ingredients will be a mantra for 2010. Salba will be the next supergrain, and superfruits like acai, yumberry and mangosteen will jump from the beverage aisle to jam jars and frozen foods. Grams of fiber and whole grains will be the competitive bragging claims for cereals and snack foods.

Health Under the Magnifying Glass: FIG predicts new competitive spirit and reporting on healthiest versus least healthy states, counties and cities. Look for increases in health insurance premiums based on level of healthfulness for employees and employer-sponsored contests to incent healthy habits like quitting smoking, reducing cholesterol levels and maintaining regular exercise.”

Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about us: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or leave a comment or question below.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Food it’s all about Fresh in retail today: Roll, Roll, Roll, Away Roller Grill!



Harkin back to the days that employee’s uniforms were back & white. Employees all dawned paper hats, a time that the roller grill was introduced and ready-to-eat hot prepared food was introduced in the Convenience store channel. It was a time when the availability of food staples in extended hours of operations drove sales in this dynamic channel. The Convenience store channel continues to be dynamic, currently it is booming in the prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food sector or what I call the grocerant sector. I believe that differentiation does not mean different it means familiar within each food niche and this one is no different. Consumers young and old are demanding more choice, fresher quality and more contemporary food options.

Niche and industry global leader 7-Eleven has left the roller grill at the back door and recently has introduced Stay Fresh Bananas, Pizza, Chicken Wings. They are testing in new pilot stores their “latest insights into market trends to provide a range of 45 freshly prepared food products, including a hot breakfast menu and toasted sandwiches cooked to order.” This test includes a “café-esque range of hot lunch alternatives and will combine with Lavazza to offer barista-made coffee.”

Sheetz & Wawa both offer a full range of prepared food choice including fresh salads and fruit options. Good companies do good things over and over again. Recently Wawa CEO Howard Stoeckel detailed several efforts the convenience store chain is undertaking in during the economic slump the US is in, He stated "we're performing better than the vast majority of retailers," Fresh prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food products are strongly contributing to on-going sales and profit success. The Grocerant niche is filled with “better for you” food and continues to boom.

Quick Service restaurants are now focusing on “better for you” food. KFC hasa new meal and focus for this past “holiday promotion for its Kentucky Grilled Chicken combo meals. The meals, which contain a grilled chicken drumstick and thigh, green beans, and mashed potatoes and gravy, are now on sale at participating restaurants for $3.95. Louisville-based KFC Corp. said in a news release that the meal is rated at 395 calories. Yum brands Taco Bell is now pushing the “Drive Thru Diet”. Better for you grocerant meals are here to stay.

Foodservice Solutions is the global leader in the Grocerant niche. For more read this article: http://www.anything4restaurants.com/blog/index.php/2009/07/restaurant-consumer-discontinuity-the-consumer-moved-first/

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It’s 5 PM in January where will you have dinner?



It’s cold, windy, snowy for most of the United States and it’s 5 PM, dark outside, the kids are hungry and you have noting in the house to eat. Your getting in the car to head home now what do you do?

What is your first choice stop and pick everyone up and go to a restaurant? Which one? Will it cost too much? Will everyone like that spot? How long will it take to bundle everyone up and sit down, order, eat and return home. Should I order from my I Phone and stop at the restaurant and pick up food? I guess the questions is How tired am I?

Second choice should I stop at Metropolitan Market, Central Market, HEB or Wegmans and pick up one ready-to-heat fresh prepared pizza, prime rib with all the trimmings and a chicken Cesar salad? Ok I’m set but will everyone else be happy?

I could simply stop at Wawa, Subway or 7 Eleven and get a fresh selection of prepared fresh sandwiches with fresh fruit on the side? What type of sandwich and what in the world do they want on them? OK I might give up?

I want to know where you go to eat at5PM in January and why? Email me privately at:stevejohnson77@msn.com or leave a comment below. Next week I publish the results of this completely unscientific results.

Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche providing ready-to-eat and ready-to-eat program assessments.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Food retailing competition intensities; Grocery stores, C-stores and restaurants fight for survival.



Regional food retailers risk being marginalized by new concepts with smaller footprints, lower cost of goods and faster service. The struggle for in 2010 will be one were those companies that understand the new dynamics in the industry and react properly will accelerate growth. While other will close more lack luster stores pontificate on repositioning and capitulate marketshare for years to come.

Here is what we understand; consumer discontinuity in food retailing began in 2005 and continues. New points of distribution are growing, becoming smaller in size and worked out many of there problems. Fresh & Easy for example reports last quarter sales were up 34%. Marketside by Wal-Mart is rebranding some of their meals ready-to-heat with small portions that were so successful they are now popping up in traditional stores as a private label product. Walgreens will enter the prepared fresh food arena in unban locations to include high quality grocerant style fresh prepared meals portioned for one or two and fresh coffee. Will Rite Aid follow?.

“The future has already arrived; it’s just not evenly distributed.” A quote made famous by William Gibson sure comes to mind don’t you think. Subway’s successful small footprint is growing fast and they will open another 80 units in Japan alone this year. Fresh prepared “better for you” food and food options are in the grocerant niche and growing rapidly. Single-unit healthful pizza concept Naked Pizza that has garnered strong funding and signed a 50-unit development deal while Calbi Fusion Tacos and Burritos, a mobile vendor truck concept is now offering franchisee opportunities fresh small and fast. It’s a new world.

Successful convenience store operators the likes of Sheetz and Wawa once two notable regional players are now seeing 38,000 unit 7 Eleven entering the fresh food meal niche and Casey’s General Stores continues to boom, they should reach 1,500 units this year. With Walgreens around each corner this niche is about to change and change fast.

Many restaurant companies the ilk of Darden and Brinker will need to undergo continue and additional scrutiny in order to find a repositioned niche that will sustain them over time. Legacy grocery stores that are seemingly stuck in the middle will simply fade away. Wal-Mart’s supply chain advantage and industry research advantages will simply prove too much. The added points of fresh prepared food distribution in the retail channel offered by Walgreens and Rite Aid will renew the local neighborhoods and rekindle community to that sector.

William Gibson quote: “The future has already arrived; it’s just not evenly distributed.” How many of you are prepared for 2010. If you have been waiting to see what’s next? If so you might have just missed the bus.

Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about us: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or leave a comment or question below. If you would like to read the latest interview of Steve Johnson on Grocerants here is the link: an interview of Steven Johnson at: www.goodfoodsales.blogspot.com/2009/12/grocerants-steven-johnson-shares-his.html

Monday, January 4, 2010

Grocerant prepared food niche leaders can learn lessons from college students.



Grocery stores, Convenience stores and Restaurant menu engineers will all be studying this list and you should too. College students remain a bright light in our society. Filled with hope, anticipation and idealism. We look to them for a renewed sense of contemporized relevance and food is no exception. We all can rest assured that change comes slowly and the new normal is a blend of our past and present. Sodexo one of the largest contract university feeders released the top 10 college foods for 2009. Here is the list:

1. Apricot glazed turkey

2. Meatloaf with frizzle-fried onions

3. Vietnamese pho

4. Vegetarian lentil shepherd’s pie

5. Chicken adobo

6. Stuffed port chops

7. Vegetarian jambalaya

8. Lemon herbed baked tilapia

9. Rotisserie chicken

10. Home-style pot roast

We continue to see that America is a cultural melting pot, and pot roast will be around for some time. What is exciting to see from this list is that bold flavors and “better for you” foods continue to make there way up the priority list of the young. This list is a glimpse of future menu’s trends / development we will begin to see during the next decade. The assortment of flavors will continue to escalate and the value proposition of vegetarian entrée’s will put added pressure on the menu mix overall.

Contact me for more at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or leave a comment below. For more read this article: http://www.anything4restaurants.com/blog/index.php/2009/07/restaurant-consumer-discontinuity-the-consumer-moved-first/

Sunday, January 3, 2010

“More than a Mouthful” Hooter’s shows why the Restaurant sector will continue to lead.


Grocery stores and Convenience stores are in competition for the share of stomach with Restaurants daily. Last year (2009) particularly we see that both the grocery sector and convenience store sector have picked up marketshare on restaurant sector. They may in fact continue to do the same at least during the first half of 2010. Then Hooters comes along targeting the valued 21 to 35 year old consumer with excitement and fun. Excitement, interactivity and visceral attractiveness has driven restaurant concepts growth for over 25 years. It’s my advice for 2010 don’t count out the restaurant sector. Hooters new menu item is a hamburger! Exciting no but it has been positioned to be exciting. McDonalds is pushing $ 1.00 breakfast you choose. Now that is exciting as well it a promo based of interactive with ad’s that are viscerally appealing.

What’s disappointing is that the Grocery sector exhibiting success with grocerant ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared portable food continues to use extreme restraint when marketing or communicating the value, quality and portability there ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food. My question is why? Who do they thing their competition is? Not only do they not bring excitement to the fresh prepared grocerant style food, in many cases they let it sit under heat lamps and “crust over” diminishing any value attributes consumers may have seen. Restraint remains the new normal for grocery stores prepared food marketing, when it changes so might the consumer value position.

Convenience stores on the other hand have learned to package, display and assemble fresh food with a qualitative point of differentiation. 2009 the number of new products tested, rolled out and presented to consumers in the C-store niche was exciting. Companies large and small were at it, from Rutter’s and Quick Chek to Casey’s and 7 Eleven. Most impressive is the proactive marketing, PR and visceral display changes in food within this sector (by by Roller Grill).

2010 is sure be exciting and “More than a Mouthful” in the grocerant prepared food niche!

Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about us: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or leave a comment or question below. If you would like to read the latest interview of Steve Johnson on Grocerants here is the link: an interview of Steven Johnson at: www.goodfoodsales.blogspot.com/2009/12/grocerants-steven-johnson-shares-his.html

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Convenience store sector the stage is set for consolidation in 2010.



Grocerant prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food soled the stage in 2009. Companies with a solid footing in the niche clearly lead the sector. Foodservice sales rose 7.7 percent on a per store basis in 2008, and prepared foods led the way with a 9.1 percent sales gain per store, according to a Convenience Store News 2009 Foodservice Study. What we must take note of is that the margins within the prepared food niche were much higher than other parts of the C-store sector and impressively higher in the Grocery sector. The restaurant sector gained ground via the drive-thru and strong competitive price points with ready-to-eat prepared food.

Most exciting to watch is the Convenience sector where those in the grocerant niche or those conducting multiple fresh prepared food product tests are growing in both per store volume and new units. Prepared food has provided new life for companies like Kum & Go the 50 year old convenience chain that added 21 new stores this year to bring it total to more than 430 units by the end of 2009. Growing units at more than 4% a year Casey’s General Stores selling prepared food including pizza, now has in excess of 1,488 units according to CFO Bill Walljasper. Watch for Casey’s to continue to enter new markets gobbling up marketshare.

7 Eleven with 38,000 stores worldwide is repositioning US stores to become more like Grocerants. They are testing new coffee formats, fresh prepared breakfast and lunch options and rolling out pizza. In fact they are planning 750 new units in the US in the next year or so. More interesting 7 Eleven is driving growth via consolidation. From coast to coast they are soliciting locations, operators and regional players. This will be a success for them as they role out new grocerant prepared food offerings. Momentum for this recruitment is garnering new franchisee partners and will continue grow.

QuikTrip is growing in both units and geography from Tulsa, Kansas City, Atlanta, Phoenix, Dallas, Wichita, St. Louis, Des Moines and Omaha markets utilizing commissaries to serve all 534 units sales of the fresh deli-sandwiches, salads, fruit cups and muffins are all exceeding company expectations. This company is one to watch organic growth is in play here.

Two companies that are conservative in growth Sheetz and Wawa both are high volume regional players with outstanding grocerant style prepared food. These are my takeover or take-out targets for 2010; each seems stifled in there ability to grow outside there current operating borders. Each would be a plum for companies searching for volume, highly skilled management teams and premade template for success. If they don’t begin a strong push for growth they may be inadvertently and unintentionally marginalized by an industry on the move.

Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche. More about us: http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or leave a comment or question below. If you would like to read the latest interview of Steve Johnson on Grocerants here is the link: an interview of Steven Johnson at: www.goodfoodsales.blogspot.com/2009/12/grocerants-steven-johnson-shares-his.html

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome to the New Year




We hope this year is good for you, your family and companies, enjoy the Holiday.