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Technomic: Fresh Meal Purchases Slump

CHICAGO — Consumers are buying meals less frequently from supermarket foodservice operations than they were two years ago, according to Technomic’s latest research.

Since this could mean that people are returning to the restaurant world for their ready-to-eat meals, Technomic researchers conclude that retailers need to make changes to see that their meal solutions stand out from those offered by restaurants.

The research firm found in its Retailer Meal Solutions Consumer Trend Report that just 38% of consumers surveyed said they purchase meals from traditional supermarkets each week. That’s compared to 42% who said that in 2010.

“These consumers may be reversing the patterns they set a couple of years ago by heading back to restaurants,” Darren Tristano, vice president of Technomic, said in a news release.

“For retailers to gain or maintain their share of foodservice dollars, they’ll need to clearly stand out from restaurants —especially since our data show that consumers’ expectations are rising for the taste, quality, freshness and appearance of retailer-prepared foods,” Tristano added.

Technomic’s research shows that some retailers are already making changes. In fact, in one of the major findings in a study that involved 20 supermarket chains, it was found that some retail meal solution menu trends included signature fried snacks, more variety for vegetable sides, higher-quality pizzas, a distinct specialty focus for sandwiches and burgers; and a move toward ethnic flavors.

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