Consumers turning to more retail meals

by Staff
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CHICAGO — With more consumers buying prepared meals, three in five consumers who say they are purchasing more supermarket prepared meals are doing so at the expense of fast-food restaurants, according to market researcher Technomic.

"Retail food chains, eager to recapture share-of-stomach, have been actively developing retailer meal solutions with strong consumer appeal, allowing retailers to reposition themselves as competitors to restaurants," said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president of Technomic. "Consumers are facing increasingly difficult economic choices, like balancing the higher cost of gasoline with the decision to dine out. The economic downturn may alter consumers’ food sourcing habits. To stay in the game, retailers and restaurant operators will have to continue to adapt their value equations to meet the market’s changing needs."

Technomic found more than half of consumers think retailer prepared foods have greatly improved during the past three years, and more than 80% said they bought at least one prepared meal from a retailer in a typical month with more than four in 10 consumers purchasing four or more retailer meals per month. Consumers said taste and freshness were the most important factors in choosing a retailer-prepared meal, but having fresher menu items was an area noted as needing improvement for many retailers. Additionally, one-fifth of consumers said they would buy more retail meals if more menu items were offered.

Technomic surveyed more than 1,500 consumers for its "Retailer Meal Solutions Consumer Trend Report."

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