Foodservice With Finesse
Tim Powell, principal and c-store practice lead with Chicago-based Technomic Inc., attributes part of Mariano’s success to its focus on retail meal solutions and not simply being a fresh market grocer.
“There are anywhere from 20 to 30 tables (per store) dedicated to retail meal solutions, and in some stores there are an additional 20 to 30 tables for patio seating,” says Powell. “Their sushi station, for example, doubles like a small bistro with chopsticks, silverware and a menu.”
According to the latest data from The NPD Group/CREST, grocery retailers (along with drug stores) are accounting for a vast majority (73%) of home meal replacement purchases today among the retail prepared-foods category, compared to discount stores (21% of purchases) and price clubs (6%).
“Consumers are purchasing from these outlets because they believe the food is healthier, offered in greater variety and is provided in a more convenient meal solution at a much lower price than going to a restaurant,” says Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst for Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD. “The trend of eating at home is growing, and this growth comes at the expense of restaurants.”
In fact, home meal replacement purchases made at grocery stores and other retailers are up 29% for lunch and 9% for supper since 2008, per The NPD/CREST data. And those are day-parts when many busy professionals and families frequent Mariano’s.