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    Retail Foodservice Forecast:<br />Grocers&#8217; Meal Solutions Attracting More Consumers

    A recent report from Chicago-based Technomic that explores how expanded retail foodservice offerings are driving more and more consumers to these outlets bodes quite well supermarkets, which are becoming increasingly competitive with restaurants.

    A recent report from Chicago-based Technomic that explores how expanded retail foodservice offerings are driving more and more consumers to these outlets bodes quite well supermarkets, which are becoming increasingly competitive with restaurants.

    As supermarkets and other retailers angle ever more aggressively to develop retailer meal solutions (RMS), key highlights of Technomic’s “Retailer Meal Solutions Consumer Trends Report” finds that grocery stores offer the compelling advantages of:

    •    Added convenience
    •    Expanded meal alternatives
    •    Portion-size flexibility
    •    Increased focus on innovative menu items
    •    In-store restaurants and other “third-place” features
    •    In-store RMS events, including chef demonstrations and samplings

    According to the report, retail chains consider RMS to be “very important” to their future, possessing strong growth potential. Success will be achieved through the ability to target customers at both the high end and low end of the price spectrum, and positioning themselves as competition for limited-service restaurants, a sector to which supermarkets have lost share of stomach in recent decades.

    RMS operators and suppliers who aren’t tuned into this rapidly growing retail foodservice landscape could be faced with growing challenges in targeting key customer groups, Technomic warns.

    To that end, the research firm advises retailers to:

    •    Better position RMS to address consumer concerns with freshness. The vast majority of consumers — 87 percent — say freshness is key to their decision to purchase RMS, yet offering fresher menu items was noted as a needed area of improvement for many retail players

    •    Develop convenience offerings that will appeal to three-quarters — 74 percent — of consumers who say convenience is a critical factor in deciding to purchase a retailer meal solution

    •    Respond to an average of 22 percent of consumers who say they would purchase more RMS if there were a greater variety of menu offerings. Addressing variety is most critical to c-store customers, where 37 percent would be encouraged to purchase more RMS if the variety of offerings were expanded

    •    Understand how consumers perceive RMS offerings and amenities compared with restaurants. More consumers say that the appearance of the food from RMS venues is better than food from many restaurant segments. Conversely, the quality of ingredients used in these menu items is perceived to be higher at restaurants.

    After interviewing 1,500 consumers regarding RMS, Technomic also determined:

    •    An average of three in four consumers purchase RMS on a monthly basis vs. one in three purchasing RMS on a weekly basis. This high overall usage, but low frequency, signals that RMS is widely used and accepted by consumers but hasn’t yet become a foodservice routine

    •    More frequent RMS purchases can be encouraged by creating a strong value proposition that also provides customers with the added convenience they desire. One way value and convenience can be heightened is through food packaging. Consider creating packaged meals that are individually portioned, or entire meals that include entrees and sides in one easy-to purchase/-transport package. Less work imposed on the shopper, through reheating and portioning, will encourage more frequent and repeat purchases

    •    Cleanliness of the establishment and overall value, followed by price, are the most important non-food-related attributes in an RMS decision, and shouldn’t be overlooked

    For more information on “The Retailer Meal Solutions Consumer Trend Report,” as well as ordering information, visit Technomic Information Services at www.foodpubs.com.

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