Friday, April 30, 2010

Fresh prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food has found a home in C-stores.


David Portalatin, industry analyst for NPD’s convenience store channel research recently revealed via a new channel study that ‘Mid-to-late thirty something’s, tend to buy more convenience store prepared foods, as convenience is key to this demographic.”

In addition using fresh food as an example of the aging curve's impact on purchase incidence, Portalain’s NPD’s report found that young adults tend to purchase less prepared convenience store foods as they age within the 18–33 brackets. “Fresh food” was defined as food prepared on site, including pizza, burgers, and some fresh fruits and veggies.

While the convenience store niche continues to expand it’s offerings of grocerant style fresh prepared food. It was interesting to note that as consumer age particularly boomers they are looking for healthier food options. The trend for fresh prepared better for you food looks as if it a perfect fit for the convenience store sector. The upside is current consumers will be happy with the fresh options and additional (boomer) will not only take a look but will follow.

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Foodservice private label brand managers are needed in the grocerant niche.


Increasing top line revenue, customer continuity & bottom line profits in the food industry should be an ongoing focus. Customer continuity means maintaining a level of excitement in your menu or food products that drive contemporized relevance for your customer in order to maintain or increase frequency levels.

Creating or identifying distinctive differentiated food consumable’s as an entity with identity by day part is an area each brand must focus. Understanding the unique balance between palate, price, pleasure and the consumer’s drive for qualitative distinctive differentiated new food consumables will place you in a select industry grouping.

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.

Outside eyes can bring new light and assist in your pace of growth, redevelopment and deployment of your new menu’s with appropriate COG’s. Foodservice Solutions is very good at assisting people reach their goals. The grocerant niche is in need of private label brand managers to assist in building long term brand value for both individual product and brands.

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

National Brands gain ground on private label via Digital Signage.


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

Walmart recently added digital signage to select end caps with their stores. National branded products provide high quality visceral information and consumer are drawn in. This allows Walmart to create and look and feel within the store of contemporized relevance.

I had a friend remark that after a recent visit to Wal-Mart she was impressed and please to see how viscerally attractive the store was. Visceral attractiveness is now a contemporary standard in retailing. BP is going to Install Digital Signage at the Pump and in the store at over 1,000 units. Digital signage is not an operational efficiency it is now a required step in the consumer’s path of contemporary progress. The consumer is not static they are dynamic all retailers must keep pace with the customer.

Supermarkets, Convenience stores and Restaurants all must avoid unwittingly practicing Brand Protectionism and saying no too items that consumer comes to expect. Visceral attractiveness is now as important as cleanliness and service. The Grocerant sector is leveraging digital informational tools to build a strong consumer base.

I was reminded as well that the NY Hilton hotel has had CNN in it’s elevator now for over 12 years. Visceral information is not new nor is it going away. Don’t let your brand unwittingly practice “Brand Protectionism” Visceral information is a the strategy, that is garnering results

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Burger King, McDonalds, Safeway, Walgreens who’s stealing the show?


Mimosas, McMuffns, Smoothies, Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, Onion rings and Egg rolls Mix and Match grab and go; the consumer is delighted with new offerings, price competition and new points of distribution. I must proclaim that channel blurring is dead from the minds eye of the consumer in the retail foodservice space.

Who is going to win this new race to be the lowest price in the marketplace? Chain restaurants were watching as customer began to buy fresh prepared food ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat from grocery stores in increasing numbers. Companies like Harris Teeter, HEB, Central Market, Whole Foods, Safeway and Fresh & Easy all offered low cost fresh prepared meal components with quality.

Customers are now coming back drawn by price, convenience and speed of service. The restaurant sectors players range from Jack In The Box, Boston Market, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Quiznos, Dairy Queen, Wendy’s, Arby’s and yes McDonalds and Burger King. The offers range from $1 for any size drinks, bundled offers from 3 for $3 including cheese burger and egg rolls. Boston Market offered Mix and Match for $ 2.99.

However, don’t expect the grocery stores and convenience stores to give in. They have seen the light, consumer want fresh prepared food. Recruiters from both grocery and C-store sectors are seeking trained foodservice managers and line employees from restaurants. They are now branding some private label fresh prepared products and will soon focus on price competition as well. No way are they giving in. Watch out for the Drug Store sector Walgreens is marching in; so, can Rite Aid be far behind?

The simple answer is the company that can hold the price advantage the longest is going to garner the largest share of market. Walgreens has a successful beverage kiosk and is now entering the fresh prepared food niche. This sector is on fire. We are now seeing new products introduced that are “better for you” with new positioning garnering attention of a new informed consumer. The consumer is watching and moving is your company?

Burger King does brunch with new mimosa, innovative and on target! Watch this video click on the link.

http://www.newsy.com/videos/burger-king-tests-new-brunch-menu/

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson

Monday, April 26, 2010

Grab & Go fresh prepared food is garnering attention from main line magazines and local press.


The grocerant niche comprised of ready-to-eat and or ready-to-heat fresh prepared food continues to expand its footprint from Quick Service Restaurants (QSR’s), Convenience Stores and grocery stores too retail drug store chains.

Highly respected with a large national following Consumer Reports Magazine recently conducted a study on the types and quality of smoothies being sold in supermarkets /grocery stores. Then WABC reported on smoothie sales. What that they found was a number that was even staggering to me. WABC reported that more than 150 million dollars worth of smoothies are sold in supermarkets and the number is growing.

When you consider how many smoothies are sold in convenience store niche or even just 7 Eleven via the “BIG GULP” alone this fresh prepared beverage category is being mined well and will continue to grow. Walgreens has frozen beverages now in many of its test food units. I believe that the Walgreens beverage kiosk will remain as they expand with additional fresh food offerings.

Points of distribution for all fresh prepared food and beverages are expanding rapidly. These new points of distribution / competition place increased pressure on all retail foodservice operators. Innovation in new forms of industry research, new products both food and beverage and new metrics of success are being defined.

If your company is doing what they did 5 years ago, it might be time to revalidate your positioning. The retail foodservice landscape is changing fast and the consumer is driving the change. Foodservice Solutions in Tacoma can assist you with a grocerant assessment, grocerant tour or niche development plan. Outside eyes can build top line sales and bottom line profits.

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Convenience stores find consumers willing to pay a premium for fresh prepared and healthy fare.


From coffee, salads and baked goods, convenience stores are focused on moving fresh food forward. Companies from coast to coast including Tedeschi Food Shops to Tesoro Stewarts Shops to Sheetz each is making grab and go food better for the customer and better for you!

Healthy fresh prepared ready-to-and ready-to-heat food remained a top priority for all Convenience stores in 2009 and will continue for some time too come. “Natural” products gained popularity with sales growing in all departments except meat, even posting 166 percent growth in the bakery according to a recent study.

The interest in health and increased distribution of ready-to-eat and fresh-cut produce helped propel produce sales as well in 2009. Increases occurred in the prepared vegetable category including beans, broccoli this reflects a solid commonality with the college student preferences released by Sodexo.  Sales also increased in herbs as well as healthy snack fruits such as prepared pineapple and grapefruit.

Bundling convenience with individual packaging and affordability positions C-stores well for continued growth in the grocerant ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared food niche. Building top line revenue and bottom line profits appears to be better for you as well!

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Foodservice innovation provides long term tangible brand value.


Retail foodservice provides consumer an endless supply of new offerings. Daily we can drive down the street and see innovative new retail food concepts, new food products advertised on TV or jazzy remolded stores chain stores. Your customers do the same thing and they try one or two of them. If they like the experience, you have lost a customer.

Julia Stewart one the America’s penultimate proactive retail foodservice success stories utilizes a continuum of innovative tactics intertwined into a dynamic brand strategy that allows DineEquity and it restaurants to prosper even in difficult times. Balancing menu innovation, brand positioning and unit imaging like a conductor of and world class orchestra; Julia Stewart understands that consumers and brands must be dynamic to succeed.

Howard Shultz understands business but has never let that interfere with his compassion for his employees. Innovation in many cases means new products, new look or new packaging. Howard Shultz was the first in the industry to provide Health Care benefits for part-time employees. This created lower turnover than other “QSR” companies positioning Starbucks as a “better for you” and better for it’s employees company. In addition it crated a top of mind value added continuum reference for consumers. The halo affect of such positioning is a platform that was revived and is again thriving all during poor economic conditions.

Both companies’ brands are expanding today outside the US and within the US, building top line value while cultivating current customer with proactive innovating new product services and imaging. Most importantly they are each reaching out via new avenues of distribution and markets attracting new customers.

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bundling retail foodservice success.


In 2010 success is defined with new metrics. Included are three key components that are required in foodservice today. The grab & go, take-away food, ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat prepared fresh food niche continues to grow because operators are utilizing all three of these metrics.

First reward your best customers. Create a loyalty program that acknowledges they are special, while incentivizing additional trial. Programs that focus on; better for you / healthy / green platforms help drive an increase in sales while producing brand value incrementality.

Second update and accelerate the number of Limited Time Offers (LTO’s). Think outside the box here. This is retail foodservice; keep it fresh and relevant to time of year and surrounding social –cultural developments. LTO’s are leverage to contemporized relevance and a platform of open communication informing your customers you understand them.

Third Mix & Match offerings. Allow the consumer to build the special. Grocery stores via the deli do this the very best. Across the country from A & P, Publix, Safeway and Central Market all are dong a very good job. They all understand the consumers want to mix & match chicken, fish, pork or beef with rice, potato, or vegetables. In the restaurant sector Dairy Queen had done it the very best.

“Dairy Queen’s value menu gives customers the freedom of choice, allowing them to mix and match nine menu items, choosing two for $3, three for $4 or four for $5, which is just one point of differentiation from its competitors. In all, customers will have more than 20,000 combinations to choose from. Sweet Deals includes full-portion menu choices such as the signature Dairy Queen cheeseburger, a classic all-beef hot dog, the new chicken wrap, French fries, onion rings, a side

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

McCafe, BK brunch and SBUX food add punch to the growing grocerant niche!


Three of the world’s largest fresh prepared food companies continue to expand relevance in the fast growing grocerant niche (ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh prepared food). Both McDonalds and Burger King are adding customers, frequency and daypart relevance for the fast paced consumer. McDonalds via coffee and Burger King into brunch and Starbucks more and more food.


Burger King is testing a new brunch menu in parts of the US and Canada. Burger Business reports “The brunch menu is being offered daily until 10:30 a.m. -- the same time as breakfast is offered until in other Burger King locations -- but includes a few brunch-specific items. One is a non-alcoholic mimosa. Instead of orange juice and champagne, it's a family-friendly blend of orange juice, Sprite and ice The other brunch-specific item is a new BK Ciabatta Breakfast Sandwich that combines scrambled egg, cheese, tomato, ham and bacon with a smoky tomato sauce on a ciabatta roll."

McDonald's Corp. reported a better-than-expected profit, crediting its coffee business for boosting U.S. sales. Same-store sales rose 1.5 percent during the quarter and 4.2 percent in March thanks to the chain's McCafé coffees and other beverages, according to Reuters.

McDonald's has had success with its coffee despite early complaints about the minimal cost to franchisees, who were squeezed by the economic downturn, the report stated. This quarter, the fast-food chain encroached further into Starbucks territory by introducing lower-priced frappes designed to compete with Frappuccinos. McCafe or grocerant? Starbucks profit rose on food sales? Ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food is taking off!

Shifts in the availability of fresh foods via menu expansions across retail channels are focusing on the consumer and will create more competition among retail food sectors. These are transformational times in the food industry and food manufactures and retailers jockeying for a winning position.

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson

http://www.foodservice.com/articles/show.cfm?contentid=4112&title=Restaurant Consumer Discontinuity

Grab-and-Go food is convenient family meal planning.


Grocerant niche food is fresh prepared ready-to-eat or prepped ready-to-heat that can be, 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 is doing a good job currently Whole foods, Central Market, Speedway Super America, Boston Market, Ralphs, Food Lion, Tesco or Redner’s Market? Send me an Email or leave a comment below.

One of the most interesting new developments is bundling of the meal components it’s a mix and match game that is 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.

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven  Johnson Visit: www.FoodserviceSolutions.us  http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson  Email:Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Social Media is driving growth in the grocerant fresh prepared ready-to-eat / ready-to-heat food niche.


Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA garners attention via social media for it’s expertise in the grocerant niche. C-level industry chain professionals from Restaurants, Grocery Stores and Convenience Stores have for months be seeking information on the grocerant niche from Steven Johnson at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions via Linkedin in ever increasing numbers. Front line chefs are following grocerant information on Facebook. The grocerant niche comprised of fresh prepared food that is ready-to-eat and or ready-to-heat, better for you food is propelling growth within the all retail foodservice sectors.

While consumers remain loyal to supermarkets for affordable, convenient meal solutions, bundled fresh prepared meal components are driving daypart sales. Interestingly fully-cooked meat, which accounts for 6 percent of meat department dollars, had the greatest dollar increase from the prior year. Growth was driven primarily by fully-cooked chicken, which increased 3 percent in sales in 2009 at competitive prices. Watch for specials on Pork and Seafood cooked coming to a grocer near you.

Boston Market now has five new sauces in a mix & match set that empower choice; something consumer like. In addition they have begun to focus on catering; again this is something that not only builds top line growth but expands the brand beyond the four walls. Many QSR’s have begun selling “snack” items, which has expanded daypart sales and consumer choice while increasing consumer frequency.

While convenience stores focus on price and bundled meal options the entire niche is following the fresh prepared food niche. We will soon be seeing regional chefs prepare portable meal’s selections in the Convenience stores sector. These are exciting times in retail foodservice. What we eat, how we eat and where we buy our meals are all evolving rapidly. We at Tacoma, WA based are monitoring the success steps in retail foodservice.

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Retail Foodservice from compliancy too economic doldrums, too quagmire and now prepared food fight.


Retail foodservice is an exciting landscape in which to work, follow or enjoy as a consumer participant. The one thing that is for certain is the Status Quo is not! Each day millions go to work with passion and contribute to the ongoing evolution and rediscovery of an ever growing and important sector of our society. 

The industry forced to reposition itself during our current economic doldrums has provided evidence of an emerging trend that is once again expanding the size, and availability of food in the US. I have dubbed it the “grocerant trend” (fresh prepared ready-to-eat and or ready-to-heat--- better for you-- food). Times have never been better for manufactures to create new products, collaborate and bond with clients while building top lines sales and bottom line profits.

Two strong factors are expanding the niche from fad to trend. Dramatic new points of distribution are on the way fresh prepared food emerging in non traditional points of fresh food distribution. The first is at 7 Eleven, which is entering the niche with fresh fruit and fresh prepared food at test locations around the world and at 105 units here in the US. Solid positive signs of consumer acceptance have been reported and this program will rollout to and additional 7,210 units within three years or so.

Second, Walgreens expanding brand quality in the pursuit of “fresh” prepared food. The halo effect will bolster the brand as contemporized and relevant to consumers. Focused, on its core consumer, portioned, positioned and priced competitively. Walgreens has the ability to over the next 3 to 4 years roll out that program too well over 15,000 locations.

Grocery stores the likes of Wegman’s, Central Market, Harris Teeter and Whole Foods are each expanding fresh prepared food. Safeway’s lifestyle stores are exceeding initial projections and the company is all smiles while expanding the fresh food focused units.

Convenience stores current grocerant leaders Sheetz, Wawa, Rutter’s, Quick Chek continue to test the bounds of fresh prepared food while doing an excellent job at bundling the meal components and pressuring the QSR industry to keep pace.

Many restaurant chains have or are preparing new programs and offering for this specific niche including Subway, Nathan’s Famous, Atlanta Bread, Denny’s, Jamba Juice and Quiznos. Yes, there does appear to be a new food fight and it is in the grocerant niche for consumer seeking better for you fresh prepared food that is ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration or for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson

Friday, April 16, 2010

It’s 4 PM your buying What is for dinner?


When 4 PM rolls around most Americans start wondering what am I going to have for dinner and very, very few will even entertain the idea of cooking from scratch. Most people don’t have a clue what they want let alone what is for dinner. At least that is what research has shown over the past several years. At 4 PM it’s time to turn up the competition between Supermarkets, Grocery Stores, Convenience Stores and Restaurants.

The grocerant sector, that is to say fresh prepared ready-to-eat and or ready-to-heat food is booming. Grocery stores tout rapidly growing Takeout or Take Away foods that are fresh prepared ala restaurant quality. 7 Eleven is slowly rolling away from the roller grill and into fresh prepared consumer focused ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food.

Grocery Stores and Supermarkets are pushing the high margin prepared portable food section all the while Convenience Stores are bundling and pricing ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat food extremely competitively. Whole Foods hot food stations are thriving all around the country.

Restaurateurs are packaging, bundling and marketing Take Away and Togo food better than ever. The consumer focused on menu selection, portion size and price have responded nicely to the restaurant new offerings and customer counts are growing again. Subway is now entering breakfast in a big way with better for you products.

Here at Foodservice Solutions we specialize in understanding successful bundling of the fresh prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food. It is the increasing margins and growing sales that are attracting restaurateurs, grocery stores and convenience stores into this sector.

These my friends are the good times. Bundled meal components are changing and evolving by region and family size. If you would like a strategic grocerant program assessment or a grocerant tour we can arrange them for you, your group, by niche, city or country.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration or for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Menu and food trends in Canada for 2010


I want to share these trends that were identified in the first-ever CRFA Canadian Chef Survey, conducted for the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association by independent market research firm BrandSpark International.

"Canadian chefs have identified the top trends, and now ApEx will bring those trends to life for restaurant owners and the entire kitchen team," says Luis Clavel, Executive Chef of the Holiday Inn Harbourview and President of Nova Scotia Association of Chefs and Cooks. "With customers paying more attention to food and ingredients than ever before, it's a very exciting time for chefs and restaurateurs."

Surveyed chefs rated myriad menu items and cooking methods as either a 'hot trend,' 'yesterday's news,' or 'perennial favourite.' Here are the chef picks for 2010:

Top 10 Canadian Menu Trends

1. Locally sourced food

2. Sustainability

3. Organic produce

4. Artisanal cheeses

5. Simplicity / Back to basics

6. Nutritional / healthy cuisine

7. Free-range poultry / pork

8. Small plates / tapas / mezze / dim sum

9. Bite size / mini desserts

10. Superfruits (e.g. acai, goji berry, mangosteen)

The CRFA survey also reveals the 'up and comers' poised to be the next hot trend:

Top 10 Up and Coming Canadian Menu Trends

1. Ancient grains (e.g. kamut, spelt, amaranth)

2. Gluten-free beer

3. Vegan entrées

4. Organic alcohol

5. African cuisine

6. New / fabricated cuts of meat

7. Gluten-free cuisine

8. Middle Eastern cuisine

9. Quinoa

10. Non-traditional fish (e.g. branzino, Arctic char, barramundi)"

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration or for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Accelerating retail foodservice innovation success starts with listening to consumers.


Ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food must have a high degree of consumer relevance to succeed in any retail food niche today. Technomic Inc. understands retail foodservice, the foodservice consumer. For over forty years they have been listening to consumer and benchmarking key retail food data for manufactures, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores. They understand what the consumer wants, how they have changed and importantly how they eat. How they eat, by the way has evolved dramatically over the years.

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, listens to consumer and understands that building top line sales and bottom line profits is a result of giving consumer what they want. Fresh & Easy has recently launched a better for you line of products called eatwell, “a line of more nutritious products to help customers manage their diets without compromising on taste”. They understand that in America we want to eat our way thin.

John Burry, chief commercial officer for Fresh & Easy stated. “We created a range of items designed to make it easier for customers to eat well without compromising on flavor. With products like mojito shrimp and sweet chili chicken, we’re building on the huge success of our kitchen items and helping our customers more easily manage their diets. This line was based on direct customer feedback, ““Customers asked us for products with less sodium, calories and fat, and we listened “

The eatwell product line contains no more than “25 percent of the daily values (based upon a 2,000-calorie diet) for calories, fat, saturated fat and sodium… The eatwell products also carry front-of-pack nutritional labels, which are designed to communicate the calories, fat.” Grocerant ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food continues to get better for you!

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration or for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New food trends revealed in consumers’ eating habits.


In the 2010 Schwartz Flavour Forecast which coined the term ‘Flexitarian’ to describe consumers looking to cut back on meat and replace it with nutritious but tasty alternatives. The study went on to describe how consumers are buying less meat and more flavor as they seek out healthier and cheaper foods.

Identified in the report as “Top flavour pairings predicted to get dishes flying out of the kitchen include: herbes de Provence and chorizo; mint and courgette; dill and beetroot; bay leaves and preserved lemons; chilli and edamame; and roasted cumin and chickpea.”This report was compiled by chefs from across Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Commercial director for Schwartz’s parent company McCormick (UK), James Millward, said:” consumers would indulge in comfort foods but in smaller, cup-sized quantities, a trend which it dubbed ‘cup-forting cuisine”. The report stated that “exotic flavours would come to the fore in this area, such as black peppercorns and citrus fruit, and ginger and rhubarb.”

Ok so rhubarb and black peppercorns are not so different but this indication is that they will go main stream. Remember that we believe DIFFERENTION DOES NOT MEAN DIFFERENT IT MEANS FAMILIAR. Ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food will replace fat and calories going forward with bold flavors.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration or for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bob Evans understands retail foodservice and the consumer.



Consumers have never paid much attention to channel blurring. In industry speak that means buying a product from a sole source i.e. lumber from a lumber yard, phone from the phone company, burger only from McDonalds. Grocery stores sell pots, plants, and potpourri food and prepared food, Convenience stores sell Oil for your car, Olay, Olive Oil and of course both sell prepared food.

With little fanfare Bob Evans has now remodeled a restaurant and introduced the ability for them to sell grab and go grocery items including ready-to-eat and ready to heat within the restaurant Consumer will buy food and products where ever it is convenient for them this is a logical extension for those that sell branded products. Then can now bundle multiple meals for sale at one time. .

Noble Roman’s has announced that it has developed both a “take-n-bake pizza module” and a “grab-n-go system” both are designed to be vertical integrated into existing franchise programs. Here is a Restaurant company following the consumer, developing components to the franchisee system to allow growth for the franchisee, brand value for the consumer while building profits.

These additional programs are designed for Supermarkets, Convenience Stores, Grocery Stores and can and should be utilized at traditional restaurant locations. Building new points of distribution builds top line sale and bottom line profits all the while extending the brands reach and maintain a focus on core food

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration or for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Convenience store sector: consolidation is underway watch for success clues.


We predicted in January that industry consolidation would take place in this sector this year and it’s is happening now. Most exciting to watch are those operating in the grocerant niche conducting or rolling out multiple fresh prepared food product or new product test. Prepared fresh food continues to drive this sector top line revenue and bottom line profits. C-stores entering or expanding offerings are growing in both per store volume and new units. 7 Eleven is buying units from East to West and North and South and positioning to become the leader in fresh prepared food in this sector with testing well underway.

Casey’s General Stores continues to expand its prepared food offerings and this according to, CFO Bill Walljasper CFO this purchased 10 Holiday stores. With that purchase Casey’s now has over 1,500 units and growing or may be bought if Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has its way. . Watch for Casey’s to continue to enter new markets gobbling up marketshare even if they are acquired.

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 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 they have the mind-set to grow and want too.

Two companies that are conservative in growth Sheetz and Wawa both are high volume regional players with outstanding grocerant style prepared food. These were my takeover or take-out targets for 2010. However each seems stifled in its ability to grow outside the current operating borders. Each would be a plum for companies searching for volume, highly skilled management teams and premade template for success. These are two companies that may have lost a bit of competitive advantage when health care reform passed; for each had solid industry leading benefit package’s for employees. Now others will gain footing and might be able to attract and hold a more competitive employee. If each don’t begin a strong push for growth they may be inadvertently and unintentionally marginalized by an industry they helped progress.

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.

Convenience store sector: consolidation is underway watch for success clues on this blog. Please feel free to share you view on who might be next to acquired in the comment sections or on any new fresh prepared food products you might have seen.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration or for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson.

http://www.foodservice.com/articles/show.cfm?contentid=7513&title=Convenience store sector: the stage is set for consolidation in 2010.

Foodservice; from Location, location, location, too Mix & Match meal components.


It’s 4PM and you are ready to begin thinking about dinner. One of the first questions is who will be home tonight and what will they eat? From there, the mind starts to drift on where can I go to match the family meal need set with one stop shopping.

Retail foodservice operators need to focus on the time demands of their primary and secondary target market. Instead of just thinking about “basket size” and increasing the check average or basket ticket too meet a wall street metric. To build customer frequency and loyalty; choice of meal components is key.

Foodservice Solutions understands that the growth in the grocerant niche of fresh prepared is contributing to top line growth within all sectors of retail food service, including profitability. Packaging and bundling food components is key to driving growth and profitability.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration or for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson.

Friday, April 9, 2010

In retail foodservice differentiation does not mean different it means familiar.


Fresh prepared, ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food aka the grocerant niche is driving sales and profits in the restaurant, grocery and convenience store sectors. Most interesting is the strength of motivation and empowerment that customer are developing for this sector.

The grocerant niche continues to build top line revenue and bottom line profits the old fashion way! Giving the consumer something new and familiar! Companies that develop a platform that allows meal co-creation; in the car, at the office or at home are winning the heart’s and minds of today’s retail food consumer.

Broad Street Licensing (BSL) thinks that 7 Eleven “:Dreams Big” However as we have repeated reported here on this blog for many months 7 Eleven has been testing fresh prepared food around the globe and it’s working! BSL is now reporting that “115 stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Consumers can have pizza, chicken tenders, chicken wings, breakfast sausage, egg and cheese quesadillas, with hash brown potatoes on the side. Prices from 79c (for two hash browns) to $2.99 for chicken wings to $9.99 for a large pizza. “

Even more exciting they can get them any time of the day. This mix and match of small portions, fresh prepared food components, makes meal time a time of convenient meal participation, with differentiation and individualization. That’s a clue for continued success in this niche.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration or for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Menu mavens delight at options available in the fresh prepared grocerant niche.


The tables are turning and consumers are finding innovation, excitement and sophisticated choice in fresh prepared food in Grocery stores, Convenience stores. This is complementing very well what they have for years found in restaurants. The new paradox for consumers is where to shop? Grocery, Convenience store or take away from restaurants.

I will list three sets of menu items; A, B, C. The first person to Email me and list in order which sector each menu grouping came from will win a Starbucks gift card. The sectors of choice are: Grocery, Convenience Stores and Restaurants. Email:stevejohnson77@msn.com Grouping A:

1. Potato Crusted Dijon Salmon

2. Corned Beef ∧ Cheddar on Rye

3. Red Pepper Risotto

4. California Chicken Salad

Grouping B:

1. Lager Battered Fried Shrimp

2. Sweet Potato Salad

3. Wild Mushroom Farro

4. Almond Cream Torte

Grouping C:

1. Pasta with Vodka Blush sauce

2. Edamame Succotash

3. Turkey Club on Flatbread

4. Raspberry-White Chocolate Cake

I will post the correct order and the winners name 12 hours after the win. GOOD LUCK

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant. For more read:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Take Away food ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat is convenient meal planning!


Grocerant niche food is fresh prepared ready-to-eat or ready-to- heat. It may be from Wawa as a salad or fresh hoagie! It can be from Whole Foods and come as sous vide /cook chill or fresh prepared from one of the display food stations ready-to-eat, 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. The list of companies in the grocerant niche doing a very good job continues to grow, Central Market, Speedway Super America, Boston Market, Ralphs, Food Lion, Tesco, HEB, Safeway, Sheetz, Burger King, Subway and KFC.

One of the most interesting new developments is bundling of the meal components it’s a Mix and Match combo that is very empowering for the consumer. Subway and Burger King have for years been doing this with individual sandwiches. Today however now consumer’s can buy from grocery stores and restaurants 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 prepared food components makes meal time a time of convenient meal participation, with differentiation and individualization. Today’s success clue for all the players in this niche, is packaging. KFC understands this and watch the PR and sales of KFC’s new sandwich the doubledown! http://www.kfc.com/doubledown/

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant. For more read:

http://www.foodservice.com/articles/show.cfm?contentid=4112&title=Restaurant Consumer Discontinuity

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Subway leveraging consumer choice, value and daypart too garner additional sales success.


Blending better for you products with added daypart exposure will in the long run contribute to the long term success of Subway and its franchise partners. Let’s face it Subway gets it! “It” by the way is today’s retail food consumer!

Still building frequency and unit volumes with the continued success of the $ 5.00 footlong! You have to give credit were credit is due! Entering the breakfast niche late in the game, Subway trumps them all with healthier alternatives meal options. The Mix & Match lineup of include one “a Western Egg White Muffin Melt omelet on a light wheat English muffin containing 4 grams of fat.”

Empowering choice, Subway has four Fresh Fit(tm) Egg White Muffin Melts that are each under 180 calories, contain less than 4.5 g of fat and have 5 g fiber. In addition to the Western Egg & Cheese omelet sandwich, which is made with Black Forest Ham, Red Onions and Green Peppers, other omelet sandwich choices include, Egg & Cheese, Black Forest Ham & Cheese, and Steak, Egg & Cheese.

Bundling meal components now includes upgraded coffee options including Seattle Best coffee. Subway will allow customers to order and mix and match these options all day long. Better for you all day long should be Subways new tagline! They are providing the presentation of fresh prepared, better for you food with some of the lowest calorie counts in the industry!

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fresh prepared food is empowering, sales, customers and success!


This blog continues to focus on the grocerant ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh prepared food sectors of the foodservice industry. The ability to Mix & Match meal components or ingredients on particular sandwich is empowering to the consumer.

Fresh prepared, ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat is driving sales and profits in the restaurant, grocery and convenience store sectors. Most interesting is the strength of motivation and empowerment that customer are developing for this sector.

Sheetz a leading Northeast grocerant niche player has had lots of success with it’s “Made To Order—MTO” sandwich program. So much so that now their customers are producing video’s and posting them on YOU Tube.

This video called "My MTO," a rollicking tribute to the company's made-to-order sandwiches was posted on line and an article was written and then the video was reposted at CSNews.com

“More than three minutes long, the video is the work of a group of young men who took the time to write lyrics, shoot footage at a Sheetz store, and create a video that is not only funny, but its chorus -- "It's my MTO, oh, oh. It's my MTO, oh, oh" -- sticks in the mind.” I just love this stuff. If you build a solid grocerant niche program customers will sing your praises literally. I have posted the link here on this site or visit the Sheetz MTO video on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orlFI7SbS8A

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Better for you food; just might be better!


In a research survey issued by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) on Functional Foods, the survey found that “89% of Americans agree that certain foods can have benefits for long term health including reducing the risk of disease or other health concerns. Consumer identified the following:

1. Fruits and vegetables

2. Fish / seafood

3. Milk & Yogurt

4. Meat & poultry

5. Herbs & spices

What is most interesting to me is that the number one item on the list also appeared as the number one food preferred by college students in dorm meal plans for the past 20 years! Now think about it, our customers are looking for better for you product when they go out to eat and at home.

Grocerants are now providing more Apples via McDonalds and Burger King to family’s via Kids portable bundled Kids meal options than Grocery stores sell Apples. Prudent retailers will soon understand the power of the Grocerant niche! Ready-to-eat and Ready-to-Heat quality bundled meal options that are better for you, create demand and new avenues of distribution for product.

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant.

Friday, April 2, 2010

In retail foodservice differentiation does not mean different it means familiar.


Fresh prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat is showing green. I recently had an Email from a chef asking for new recipes that he could include in his new menu line up. With out doubt I had to suggest two of my personal favorites; Avocado Studded Mac ‘N Cheese or Avocado Pasta (see picture above).

These entrée have great visceral presentation qualities, flavor and a low cost of sales. Now what could be better than that! What is important here is the fact that Avocado’s have a stable pricing history and are available all year long. When they are a hit you’ll want to keep them on the menu all year long.

Both of these entrée / main course recipes can be located at the California Avocado Commission Web site (www.californiaavocado.com/foodservice). The picture above came from this website as well. Take time to peruse the recipe file while visiting the site you will find recipes for are appetizers, drinks, deserts and salads as well. Nothing say’s Fresh like “Hand Grown in California” Avocado’s!

Differentiation does not mean different it means familiar. The grocerant niche continues to build top line revenue and bottom line profits the old fashion way! Giving the consumer something new and familiar!

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Five compelling reasons to buy ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat food!


Companies that develop a platform that allows meal co-creation; in the car, at the office or at home are winning the heart’s and minds of today’s retail food consumer. The grocerant niche comprised of the ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh prepared food is driving the success of the retail foodservice today.

Each sector has innovators; Restaurants started with Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread, Domino’s Pizza, MCD, BK and a whole lot more! Grocery started with Wegmans Harris Tetter, Whole Food and now fast charging Safeway and the “lifestyle stores. Convenience Stores have Sheetz, Wawa, with fast charging Casey’s General stores and 7 & Eleven.

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

2. Bundling, the ability to build your meal with components family member will eat.

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

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

5. Time Saving , ability to evaluate price vs. time to cook from scratch.

Join me here on my blog for insights, information and inspiration. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/grocerant or on Facebook at Steven Johnson.