Food safety concerns grow with rise of grocerants

by Erica Shaffer
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Woman choosing food at grocerant
Consumers are growing more skeptical of the prepared foods served at grocery stores.

CHICAGO — Supermarkets are reaping the benefits of offering consumers prepared, restaurant-style meals, but retailers also are seeing some unintended consequences.

The number of consumers who believe prepared meals offered at supermarkets are safe to eat is declining, according to a new report from market research firm The NPD Group. Since 2006, the percentage of consumers who feel that the foods in supermarkets are safe has declined to 58% from 66% percent, NPD said.

Darren Seifer, The NPD Group
Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst

“Consumers typically rate grocery prepared foods higher on freshness and quality than quick-service restaurants, but more food handling issues and concerns come into play when foods are prepared for you,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst. “They are now extending the concerns they have about the safety of foods served at restaurants to supermarkets. Since groceries are taking on more of the role of a restaurant, they are reaping the rewards as well as the risks that go with it.”

Consumers’ use of in-store dining and take-out from grocerants has grown nearly 30% since 2008 and accounts for 2.4 billion food service visits, NPD said. These visits amounted to $10 billion of consumer spending in 2015. Additionally, more than 40% of U.S. consumers buy prepared foods from grocery stores.

Driving the trend are millennials who use grocery stores less than other generational groups but are increasing their use of prepared foods at supermarkets, NPD said. 
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