Retailers Boost Prep Food With Events, New Varieties

THIBODAUX, La. — Where they can, supermarket retailers are making a big thing of cooking local products outside, or right in front of their customers, offering samples throughout the day, and generally creating excitement around food preparation. The message is clear: it’s freshly made.

They’re also promoting their brand at community events.

“We are doing a lot more onsite cooking at events across South Louisiana [4] and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. For Saints games at the Superdome, we shuck and grill oysters, and serve jambalaya, and grill hamburgers,” Jack Treuting, executive director of culinary operations at Rouses [5] here, told SN.

Some retailers are promoting ethnic fare with full-service taco and Vietnamese soup stations. Also, an increasing number of retailers are plating up food and selling a meal for $4 to $6.99, depending on the size of it. In that regard, they’re taking demographics seriously and offering single servings and smaller portions in areas where there are single households and where many of their regular customers are elderly.

Variety, too, is getting emphasis. “We don’t limit the selection to one or two meals for $6. Customers can choose from the chef’s case and we’ll pack it up right there,” said Chef James Conroy at Super Foodtown stores, owned by Food Circus, Middletown, N.J.

For more, check out "Fresh Attention" [6] in the Fresh Market section of the March 19 issue of Supermarket News.