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Supermarkets urged to borrow from restaurant playbook

Supermarkets urged to borrow from restaurant playbook

Food retailers need to study restaurant models to further accelerate their fresh foods businesses, said Bob Goldin, EVP of Technomic.

Supermarkets should pay particular attention to fast-casual restaurants and the formats they have created, he said in Chicago during an FMI Connect educational session on fresh prepared foods.

“Fast-casual restaurants are where you need to look for inspiration and best practices,” he said. “Those players are very focused. Look at how they manage their business models.

“Chipotle has been the poster child for the fast-casual phenomenon. It’s opened the eyes of many observers to customization of foods and beverages.”

Bob Goldin
Bob Goldin (Photo by Steve Greiner)

Retailers should enhance their operational expertise by hiring associates who understand foodservice to achieve goals such as reducing shrink ratios, he said.

Supermarkets have struggled with labor challenges and need to simplify menus so they can “do fewer things better.”

Goldin said traditional retailers are posting annual sales growth of about 2% to 3%, while restaurants are up 4% to 5%.  Supermarket fresh prepared foods has accelerated to 7%-8% growth in many instances.

Retailers can do even better with fresh if they raise their games, he said.

“Supermarket fresh prepared foods is not just a good option. If done right, it’s straight on competitive with restaurant business.”

Goldin said supermarkets striving to improve this category should incorporate customized options for shoppers, selectively add local elements, and “innovate around dinner.”


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On the latter point, he said, “There’s tremendous opportunity to gain share from restaurants.”

He also urged supermarkets to enhance overall customer experience “to make it more than just about the food. You’ll do great because the opportunities are there.”

Retailers who want to do fresh prepared foods right need to take a stand, he concluded.

“So either step it up or skinny it back and don’t try to overreach, but don’t be stuck in the middle.”

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