Two years after the pandemic shut down or limited many foodservice operations at grocery stores, prepared food is back in a big way. Changes in consumer lifestyles and cooking fatigue have led to a hybrid model of shoppers still preparing their own meals, but also relying more on fresh prepared entrees and side dishes to go. Yes, consumers have gone back to restaurants but not in pre-pandemic numbers, and supermarkets are seeing the opportunity to grow their foodservice offerings.
Supermarket News checked in with four grocery chains around the country to gauge what’s going on in their prepared food departments:
• Chicago-based Foxtrot Market is redefining the corner store concept, including its elevated café experience with rotating seasonal café menus, chef-prepared meals, grab-and-go options and expansive wine selections, to enjoy in-store or at home.
• Gelson’s Markets in Southern California has had a service deli for more than 40 years and over that time, the department has evolved from a simple delicatessen to a full-fledged, at-your-service upscale restaurant, offering a catalog of items, flavors and ethnic cuisines.
• Just prior to the pandemic, The Giant Co., based near the Philadelphia market, began developing a Fresh Hall concept, where it offers a wide variety of freshly prepared food offerings. Included in this concept is its in-store rolled sushi, made-to-order poke station, made-to-order sandwiches, flatbread pizzas (to go or served hot to consume in store) and Saladworks mini-restaurants.
• Traditional regional grocer Schnuck Markets, based in St. Louis, Schnuck Markets, is seeing a renaissance with its prepared food operations, not just as it relates to its product selection, but in its procurement parameters and process.
Read the profiles to learn how these chains pivoted and prospered in prepared foods over the past two years.