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    PG WEB EXTRA: Must-Read Prepared Foods Shopper Insights

    Consumers sound-off about supermarket meal offerings.

    ICC Decision Services

    The direct consumer feedback below is part of the final installment in a three-part PG 2014 Supermarket Prepared Foods special report aimed at helping fresh food category leaders seize opportunities in one of the most important parts of the store in terms of fostering stronger shopper engagement, loyalty and overall satisfaction. The full report will appear in PG’s upcoming April issue.

    What follows are highlights of direct responses shared by ICC/ Decision Services’ online consumer panel of more than 2,300 respondents collected between Feb. 7-8, 2014. Analysis includes cross-tabulations by gender, income, number of people in household and related demographical statistics.

    Panelists were asked to share candid insights about the following open-ended question:

    What advice would you give your local supermarket to improve its prepared foods offerings?

    • Make sure the items are stirred often so the top doesn’t dry out.
    • Think about the age of customer. Not everyone is a family of four.
    • Keep it fresh and think gourmet.
    • The ability to order online before going to pick it up would save me huge wait times.
    • Make sure you rotate items for freshness.
    • Keep food at the correct temperatures. Give customers choices on different days of the week, instead of the same foods every day.
    • Have more healthy items.
    • Be not only price-conscious, but quality-conscious as well.
    • Have healthier meals and less fast food style meals, such as fish, turkey. I would even wait a bit for these items.
    • More organics.
    • I would offer free samples to give customers a chance to sample things before they buy.
    • Watch the sodium level on the foods.
    • More selection.
    • I would like to be able to see the nutritional information in order to decide whether I want to purchase.
    • Offer coupons or other promotional incentives to sample the prepared food.
    • Have the price posted in clear view.
    • Online incentives for ordering.
    • Less pasta and more vegetables.
    • Have more healthy options and provide nutritional information.
    • Provide recipes for the things I like.
    • Add vegetarian offerings.
    • Package like items together for a better deal.
    • Provide WIFI and offer fruit.
    • Try not to overcharge. I understand that I am paying for convenience, but I would consider purchasing prepared food more if the prices were somewhat less.
    • More healthy/lite choices.
    • Allow pre-order.
    • More selection and options so I don't need to go to a fast food joint.
    • More variety.
    • Offer larger salad bar options in more stores.
    • Have low-calorie prepared items.
    • Offer more specials that are cost-friendly.
    • Better prices or more specials sales.
    • Healthier options, less additives.
    • Always remember: We shop with our eyes first.
    • Offer a wider variety of antipasto and side dishes.
    • Feature list of ingredients.
    • There are very few appetizer items available; I would love to purchase finger foods for workplace luncheons, football games, book club and school functions.
    • Training for employees to have better customer services skills.
    • Make prepared on by date prominent, calorie count, make prices lower since its prepared in bulk price should be cheaper.
    • Fresh food prepared on the spot would add value.
    • More emphasis on using ingredients that don't have trans fats and/or high fructose corn syrup.
    • Make them healthier and more affordable and with less packaging.
    • Make certain items are (to the extent possible) freshly prepared!
    • I would like to see a larger variety of baked or grilled items. Most of the prepared hot items are fried.
    • Better prices; we would purchase more often.
    • Clearly separate vegetarian and meat items.
    • I wish they would bring back the salad bar. I miss it terribly!
    • Please don't overcook the rotisserie or fried chicken products. They are always too dark, dry and tasteless.
    • Run specials.
    • Display times that the food was prepared.
    • Healthy and tasteful options.
    • Have options that aren't easily prepared at home.
    • Offer more meal combos.
    • Specify prepaid dated in larger print.
    • Make sure they are fresh and look appealing, especially prepared salads (potato, coleslaw, macaroni, etc.).
    • I would like the foods that are pre-packaged to have times and dates when they were prepared.
    • I would like to see bigger chickens in the rotisserie for the money. They can be pretty puny compared to other local stores.
    • Offer more healthy and organic options.
    • Freshness, flavor, and high-quality ingredients are important to me. With pre-packaged foods, I prefer having a choice of smaller portions so that I am less likely to overeat or have too many leftovers.
    • More spicy food!
    • More information about ingredients and calories.
    • Staff when you know customers will be there.
    • Don't let sit so long under the heat lamps.
    • Do not lie to a customer. Example: ‘We are out,’ or ‘The fryer shuts down at 5:30 p.m.’ Really?
    • Consistent flavor profile and variety.
    • Get past the Mom guilt. Speak to the nutrition. Limit the salt and other bad ingredients. Lots of coupons and promo's to build the habit. Basic is in the aisles...making truly ‘prepared’ foods...great recipes....solid nutrition. Mom guilt conquered.
    • Option to order food on the website.
    • Make sure items stay in-stock throughout the entire day.
    • Lower prices.
    • I'd like to see a calorie count.
    • Make sure to keep all of the food looking fresh and not as if it has been sitting there all day.
    • Make sure the offerings are free from preservatives and GMOs. When you do, tell us.
    • They need to stop displaying fruit salads and sweet items in the same case as things with onions in them. I bought an ambrosia salad and couldn't eat it because it tasted like onions. I've never bought anything but rotisserie chickens at the store ever since.
    • Make nutrition labels available at the deli counter and/or online for prepared items. Create deli items that are low-calorie options (like restaurants do) and then label them by calories/serving.
    • Customer service is extremely important. Make sure there are employees available to assist customers in a timely manner.
    • Make the area larger
    • Please have extra staff at peak times like lunch and dinner.
    • I love variety. It's wonderful to find new items at these bars...not just the same old thing.
    • Higher quality ingredients. I would rather pay more to eat better and healthier
    • I like the idea of being able to order deli items ahead of time and pick them up.
    • Expand the selection of regular, full-fat, natural choices, as opposed to all of the low-fat, adulterated, pretending-to-be-healthy options
    • Maintain quality and keep prices reasonable.
    • Offer meals for working moms.
    • More low fat sandwiches choices
    • Encourage employees to be friendly and welcoming rather than looking down and disinterested.
    • Mix it up. They often have the same items every day.
    • Have the capability for pre-ordering. That way, I can just walk in and get my morning sandwich!
    • I would see if they had other food options available, such as meat grilling.
    • Lids on the self-serve olive bar would be nice. It’s pretty gross to offer vats of olives in open bins.
    • Prepare items the way that customers like them, not the way that is the easiest for the staff.
    • Offer more freshly prepared healthy, quick meal options.
    • Presentation and easy to identify is key in my decision making process.
    • It would be nice to have lunch combos or meal specials with a main dish and side(s).
    • Larger display area, with food presented at closer to eye level.
    • Make it easier to get. Sometimes it takes to long to wait in line to get an item, vs. being able to pick up it off a shelf/warmer.
    • Better quality dishes with low mayonnaise content. More variety in hot dishes than fried chicken and meatloaf.
    • Announce specials.
    • Have more food without additives, starting with no MSG
    • Include nutritional information, especially calories.
    • I would recommend offering more gluten-free options, mini cooking classes or advice so customers can know which items to purchase while in store.
    • I would like to be able to order online or on an app where I can tell them when I can pick up, to maximize freshness and reduce their waste. If that store has a check in, like Foursquare, it would let them know if it is ready to be picked up.

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