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Why today’s supermarkets need to sell food-for-now as well as food-for-later

Why today’s supermarkets need to sell food-for-now as well as food-for-later

In this market, the only way to grow at more than 1% or 2% is to take business from someone else.

One area where food retailers are stealing share is from what we’ve traditionally called foodservice, i.e. the restaurant business. We see the distinction between food retail and foodservice blurring as busy, time-starved shoppers buy food-for-now and food-for-later in the same place — and the retailers who are serving them are generating new sales growth. Some shoppers are moving online where they can order meals and meal solutions for home delivery from Blue Apron, Plated, HelloFresh, etc.

Eating in is a big part of Mariano's menu of prepared meals in Chicago. (Photos by Steve Greiner)

Selling fully prepared meals and/or fully assembled meal ingredients may not be a brand new idea — after all, retailers like Wegmans have been doing it for years — but I believe now is the time to make it a part of redefining the modern supermarket offering.

You can see this play out at the Village ShopRite near Morristown, N.J., where the broad array of prepared foods ranges from Italian to barbecue for carryout. There’s also a comfortable eat-in seating area. Now customers have a whole new set of reasons to visit the store.

Mariano’s in Chicagoland offers something similar. There, it isn’t unusual to see customers go to the store to get something to eat and do their grocery shopping afterwards.

Blending foodservice with food retail takes work, but if this is where shoppers are headed, food retailers need to decide if they want to go with them — and if not, ask themselves how they’ll offset the dollars that shoppers are diverting to prepared and assembled meals.

Where have you seen food retailers succeed with a food-for-now and food-for-later offering? What do you think holds others back?

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