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    Bundles of Fun

    Well-priced grocerant combos follow fast-food lead.

    Dollar menus may be dwindling, but “bundling” is the new word in the quick service restaurant realm.

    Burgerbusiness.com, an online industry resource devoted to the world of beef patties, reports that all of the biggest burger chains are looking for a low price sweet spot, with Wendy’s “4 for $4,” Burger King’s “5 for $4” and McDonald’s “McPick 2 for $2” leading the way.

    As consumers demand more menu transparency and “real” ingredient sources, bottoming out on value meals may not seem like the best idea, but bundles can make sense in restaurant and grocerant settings.

    At Wooster, Ohio-based Buehler’s Fresh Foods, $6, $8 and $10 deli meal specials offer dozens of one-main-and-two-side combos that customers can create with a range of mains, including lasagna, mini meatloaf and smoky brisket. Numerous side dish options include honey-glazed green beans, spinach salad and twice-baked potatoes.

    Mike Merritt, Buehler’s executive chef and director of food production, explains that the regional chain's extensive list of sides allows for local tastes, seasonal shifts and premium customization. “The sides are available a la carte, and the build-your-meal plan combines the sides with some staple deli items, like a best-selling Asiago chicken.”

    A $6 bundled meal has been a hit for years at Roundy’s, a grocery company headquartered in Milwaukee, notes chef and grocerant expert Steve Petusevsky. Customers pick a protein and two sides that are pre-weighed and measured for easy service.

    “Pre-portioning a scoop of smashed potatoes or a cube of mac-and-cheese or lasagna is a nicer presentation and gives a prepared food station a traditional sandwich shop look,” says Petusevsky. “Visual marketing like this is deliberate and beautiful. And people perceive by-the-piece as a better value than by-the-pound.

    “Tiered pricing is a great idea for family dinners, and make sure your bundle packaging is a brand extension, with your logo and your look walking outside the store and into people’s homes,” adds Petusevsky.

    Grocerant-Ready Ideas:

    • Tiered pricing to allow for optimum customization and appeal to a range of income levels
    • Pre-weighed and measured salads and sides for easy service
    • Beautiful, branded packaging that goes beyond clear plastic bins

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