Year-End Analysis: Retail Foodservice Soars

Weekly retail foodservice usage nearly doubles over last year

Abbie Westra, Director, Editorial, CSP

A Byerly's grocery store in Minnesota

CHICAGO -- The latest numbers from research firm Technomic indicate a sharp upward turn in retail-foodservice consumption in the past year. More than a third of consumers (35%) now report purchasing prepared foods from a retail food store at least once a week--nearly a 50% increase from May.

And it’s not a seasonal jump, either. Weekly usage of meal solutions from supermarkets, c-stores and other food retailers is now almost twice as high as it was a year ago.

In addition, another Technomic study finds that 15% of consumers have been purchasing c-store foodservice “more often than usual” in the past month. On the other hand, 15% also indicated they had been purchasing c-store foodservice “less often than usual.”

“We have several hypotheses as to why retail-foodservice spending is growing,” Kimberly Perman, senior manager at the Chicago-based firm, told Fare Digest. “RMS (retailer meal solution) products are just better than they were previously--fresher ingredients, more appealing and varied foods."

Perman further attributes the increase to busier consumers, consolidated shopping trips and a sheer increase in the number of retailers offering meal solutions.

“Also on the convenience front, many consumers want to eat at home, but do not want to cook a meal from scratch, which makes RMS appealing,” she adds.

Because away-from-home food spending is down overall from its high a few years ago, one could conclude that retail is stealing from more traditional options such as quick-service restaurants.

“In some cases, retail may not be stealing share so much as getting new business,” Perman adds. “For example, this past Thanksgiving, 17% of those who were hosting the holiday at their home were using RMS to supplement what they were preparing.”

As 2012 unfolds, Perman says Technomic will be keeping its eye on all segments of foodservice at retail.

“We find that stores across the spectrum, from high-end to low, are enhancing their retail-foodservice programs,” she says. “Everybody is out to grab additional share of stomach.”

Operators and suppliers can learn more about the growing opportunities in the foodservice-at-retail segment by attending the 2012 Foodservice at Retail Exchange, June 25-27, at the Renaissance Schaumburg outside of Chicago. Click here to register and see the complete agenda, the lineup of renowned speakers and travel details.

Abbie Westra, CSP/Winsight By Abbie Westra, Director, Editorial, CSP
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