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5 things to know about consumer attitudes towards grab-and-go foods

fresh-fruit-grab-and-goConsumers increasingly want food that is fresh and convenient to their lifestyles, but capitalizing on this opportunity requires foodservice operators to have a plan.

Culinary Visions’ new Fresh Perspectives Study identifies five things operators should know about consumers’ cravings for fresh, convenient food they can eat on the go.

“Modern consumers’ lives are getting faster, and they expect their fuel to be able to keep up,” said Sharon Olson, executive director of Culinary Visions. “We found that many consumers are struggling to strike a balance between fresh versus fast, healthful versus convenient and global versus local. Fortunately, the food industry has picked up their pace, meaning consumers won’t have to compromise-or slow down.”

Five key findings from the study include:

1) Younger consumers lead the way. The study found that they show the most interest in grab-and-go foods and consistently express the most interest in concepts across the convenience, deli, prepared foods and foodservice markets: 68% of consumers ages 18-34 said that they were likely to purchase grab-and-go sandwiches from a deli vs. 57% of consumers ages 35-54 and 44% of those ages 55 and older. The division between age groups is even wider when it comes to convenience stores. Fifty-two% of those ages 18-34 say they enjoy eating food from c-stores vs. 40% of those ages 35-54 and 20% of those ages 55 and up.

2) Fresh amps up the appeal of healthful and indulgent offerings. A whopping 85% of consumers say that transparent packaging is important when it comes to defining fresh food. However, the healthfulness of ingredients might not matter as much as the fact that food inside the packaging is fresh. Consumers were split when choosing between healthfulness and indulgence, as 48% agree that they do not care about healthfulness when it comes to snacking on the go. Fresh is important, but consumers do not necessarily view fresh and healthfulness as one and the same, according to the Culinary Visions.

3) When grab-and-go beats delivery. Food delivery apps have grown very popular in recent years, but when it comes to freshness, grab and go wins: 58% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 agree that delivered food is rarely fresh, while 64% say that refrigerated prepared foods do taste fresh.

4) Loving local while relying on favorite brands. Consumers consider locally sourced ingredients to be one of the top indicators of freshness, with 84% agreeing that locally sourced food is the freshest food. Despite this, trusted brands continue to appeal to consumers. Brand loyalty might play an even bigger role in evaluating freshness, as 88% of consumers agree that there are certain brands they trust to be fresh.

5) More fresh produce, please. Fresh produce is one of the most highly desired grab-and-go concepts, as 75% of consumers say they would be likely to purchase raw fruits and vegetables they can eat on the go and 75% say they would be likely to purchase fresh food from a salad bar. Still, 66% agree that it is difficult to find fresh snacks on the go, which suggests that plenty of opportunities remain for prepared fruits, vegetable and salad options to grow, the firm noted.

Chicago-based Culinary Visions is a food-focused insights and trends forecasting practice that studies a wide range of culinary topics important to consumers and food industry professionals. It is a division and registered trademark of Olson Communications Inc.

Originally published at Convenience Store News. 


7 tips for turning grab-and-go into big business

Screen Shot 2019-05-22 at 12.38.35 PMDepending on which studies you read, the grab-and-go (GNG) industry has been — and continues to be — a booming industry. According to Richard Macomb, a UK-based writer that follows grab-and-go trends, “it’s a booming sector fueling our busy lives.”

The reason he gives for this rapid growth is that GNG has offered so much convenience and “convenience is king”. He also refers to grab-and-go food as “food on the move,” perfect for today’s fast-moving consumers. These consumers purchase food items at all hours in a variety of locations from stop-and-go markets to high-end hotels.

So, if grab-and-go is so hot, why are some retailers having a tough time turning it into gold? There is no one answer, but more likely a variety of reasons why some are not doing as well as they like or had expected. The following are some suggestions that can help all vendors make the most of their GNG food products:

  1. Variety. There’s an old expression that says “abundance invites; scarcity repels.” That applies to GNG food. Include several entrée items in display cases and accompany them with a wide selection of other items, so customers can round out the meal with a variety of sides. This will help you develop a more complete grab-and-go menu.
  2. Signature meal choices. Shopping malls invariably depend on two or more anchor tenants to make the mall successful. These anchor tenants bring shoppers into the mall, which helps support all the retailers. The same applies to GNG. Offer some special, favorite meal choices to draw customers to your entire GNG food selection.
  3. Consistency. Nothing irks customers more than needing to scour a store display case looking for a GNG food item they like and regularly purchase. Develop a consistent display presentation. Don’t rotate items that customers buy consistently or move slow sellers to where the favorite items were once displayed. If a GNG food item is not selling well, it is best to look for another product.
  4. Branding. The food must look good to get the customer’s attention, but take that a step further. Packaging should also have the same look and feel, as well as colors and signage of the retail establishment in which it is sold. Every product in a grab-and-go food case must have a name and branded signage, according to Arlene Spiegel, a business consultant to the foodservice industry. “Make sure the signage is distinctive… this contributes to building a loyal fan base.”
  5. Be neighborhood-specific. Marketing vegan GNG products on a college campus or in a high-tech area filled with younger workers would likely do well; however, marketing those same products in an industrial or blue-collar area where meat, fish and chicken are popular might not do so well.
  6. The importance of labels. As mentioned, GNG labels can be used to help brand a product and a retailer. But they should also provide ample information so that the customer knows exactly what they are selecting, its ingredients, and a clear and understandable expiration date. In the past, this could be a drag on labor. However, with the emergence of automated food labeling platforms, labeling GNG items is a much more efficient process.
  7. Metrics. Finally, it is critical to track what items are — and are not — selling, how long some items take to sell, who is buying what (younger people, older people, women, men) and at what times. Doing so will reduce food waste and waste reduction, and in turn, helps increase profits. Providing what your customers want is what helps turn grab-and-go into gold.

Originally published at Convenience Store News.


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