Food retailers step up competition with restaurants

by Staff
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CHICAGO — Food retailers are working hard to obtain consumers dining-out dollars, according to Technomic Inc., a food research entity.

The retailers are hoping to take some of the market share of dining-out dollars away from restaurants and differentiate themselves from other retailers through meal offerings with a stronger emphasis on quality and variety and integrating trends in restaurant menus including ethnic foods, premium ingredients, customization and updated preparation techniques.

"Whole Foods probably deserves most of the credit for spawning this new interest among retailers," said Ron Paul, president of Technomic. "They were the first to prove consumers are drawn to ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat meal solutions, and will use them to replace home cooking or dining out, assuming that quality and variety aren’t compromised."

Mr. Paul also said manufacturers should assist retailers in these efforts by providing expertise, new products and assistance with training and merchandising. He also said the restaurant industry needs to recognize these efforts as a competitive threat.

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