Retail meal solution momentum grows

by Staff
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CHICAGO — Efforts by food retailers to recapture dollars lost to the food service market segment, especially through prepared foods and meals-to-go, are growing, according to "Retailer Meal Solutions: An Opportunity Assessment," a new report from market researcher Technomic, Inc.

"Consumers have moved well beyond basic deli items," said Ron Paul, president of Technomic. "They want retailers to deliver all-inclusive meals, including entrees, sides, beverage and dessert. Lighter lunch offerings also hold strong consumer appeal."

According to Technomic, sales for meal solutions, excluding beverages, will exceed $25 billion in 2007, and consumers are driven to such options as the result of high quality and taste, convenience, interest in fresher and healthier foods, variety, lack of time or interest in cooking, and price, among other factors.

The opening of Tesco’s Fresh & Easy stores in the United States is an example of the increased market for meal solutions. The retailer, which is based in the United Kingdom, focuses on convenient shopping and prepared meals. Bristol Farms, Central Market, Publix, Ukrop’s, Wegmans and Whole Foods are also retailers that focus on meal solution programs.

Mr. Paul said supermarkets and other retailers providing complete meal solutions have seen consumer traffic increases at twice the rate of restaurants during the past five years.

Food service manufacturers are also working with retailers to provide restaurant-quality products in the store.

Technomic said leading trends impacting retail meal solutions include the introduction of services, increasing the number of meal solutions stations and targeting consumers at both ends of the price spectrum.

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