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Independents urged to embrace prepared foods

Supermarkets are outpacing restaurants in fresh prepared food growth, and can make further gains by following a few important steps, according to a presentation for independent retailers during the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference.

"Restaurants are vulnerable, and there are further opportunities for supermarkets," said David Donnan, partner, A.T. Kearney.

The key steps include optimizing assortments, enhancing the fresh message in signage, incorporating combo meals, providing restaurant-quality foods, and offering lower-than-restaurant prices, he said.

David Donnan
David Donnan

Another important effort is capitalizing on dinner meals, he added.

"Most of the business for grocers is with dinner," he said. "The breakfast category is being taken over by convenience stores. Lunches tend to be more for urban-oriented stores, with practitioners including drug chains.  Dinner is an intense opportunity for grocery retailers, and it gives consumers a chance to pick up other things as well."

In another presentation to independents, Sabina Saksena, managing director, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, urged independent retailers to define where they want to play in the face of a growing number of niches, ranging from ethnic to natural foods.

"Customer profiles are changing dramatically," she said. "Invest in knowing your key customers, and why they choose you over others."

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