Consumers Give Retail Foodservice High Marks

Study finds all restaurant segments are losing visits to prepared-food offerings

A Byerly's grocery store in Minnesota

Study finds all restaurant segments are losing visits to retailers

CHICAGO -- Consumers now find retail foodservice a viable alternative to all types of restaurants, according to a new report from Technomic. Family style, upscale fast food and traditional fast food are being hit hardest, with more than two-thirds of these consumers cutting back on visits to these restaurants.

Forty percent of consumers surveyed in Southern California agreed that "prepared foods from retailers are restaurant-quality foods at better prices." Nearly two-thirds say they've seen significant improvements in the quality and variety of retailer prepared foods over the past five years.

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"Retailers' prepared foods programs have evolved to the point that they are considered viable alternatives to restaurants of all types and service styles, from full- and quick-service to upscale and more affordable concepts," said Jenny Anderson, who directs Chicago-based Technomic's RMS (Retailer Meal Solution) Monitor service.

"The appeal goes well beyond convenience and value. Consumers clearly recognize enhancements that are based on restaurant influences."

Technomic found that all restaurant segments are losing visits to retailers, but lower-priced restaurants are impacted the most. Among surveyed consumers who say they are visiting restaurants less often, family style, upscale fast food and traditional fast food are hit hardest.

Retailers' products have always competed well on convenience and value. But when asked if retailers are better or worse than restaurants on 14 different product attributes, retailers consistently fared better than restaurants, including food/ingredient quality, freshness, number of better-for-you choices and availability of premium items.

Technomic defines retailer meal solutions (RMS) as prepared (or partially prepared) foods that are found in sections of the store where consumers can pick up ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat items from service counters or self-service/grab-and-go areas (e.g., an expanded deli section). These are products that do not require extensive preparation beyond reheating (if applicable). They might be refrigerated, but they are not frozen. Examples include rotisserie chicken, sushi, sandwiches, pizza, salads, soups, side dishes, etc.

For more information on the report, visit www.technomic.com.