Microsession: The Power of Foodservice at Retail

BY ED VERNON, Produce Business

Rick Stein

Rick Stein

Rick Stein, vice president of fresh foods at the Food Marketing Institute, presented the results of the organization’s recent study into the power of foodservice at retail.

Stein said there were significant opportunities for supermarkets to grow their sales, given that at present only one in 10 shoppers’ trips to the supermarket included purchases of deli prepared food, despite the department’s high penetration of 96 percent.

“Shoppers buy deli prepared in the supermarket once every three weeks; if you start thinking about that, you see all the opportunity there is,” said Stein. “If you get them to convert one more time in those three weeks, you can exponentially grow.”

Stein recommended supermarkets start to think of their deli section not as another department of the store but rather a separate business, adding that they needed to work to become top-of-mind among consumers when they are thinking about where to buy a take-out meal. In addition, he said it was important that increased purchases in the deli section did not cannibalize sales in the store’s other departments.

“You’ve got to establish this conversion to deli/fresh prepared,” he said. “You won’t get conversion until you start becoming top-of-mind.”

Supermarkets should also leverage technology to improve visibility and awareness of foodservice as a viable restaurant alternative, maximize their deli section’s share of the market and connect with consumers by methods of communications they generally prefer, like email and text.

“We need to provide options for speed, we need to answer the health and wellness, we have to address ambience, optimize assortment and consider meal kits as a foodservice extension,” said Stein.