Food retailers of all kinds are finding ways to ramp up their retailer meal solutions (RMS) programs, which have emerged as a critical strategic initiative for not only most supermarket chains and supercenters but also for convenience stores, dollar stores, and drug stores, says food consultancy Technomic.
Shifting consumer dynamics are one reason RMS continues to grow. “Gone are the days of trips to the grocery store designed to address a family’s needs for the next one to two weeks,” said Wade Hanson, Technomic principal and director of the firm’s retailer meal solutions practice. “Instead, consumers shop more often and use many different types of stores with an eye toward fresh foods and ready-to-eat meals.”
“Since store centers have changed very little in look and function over the years, retailers must concentrate on the perimeter to set themselves apart with consumers,” Hanson said. Suppliers can play an important role in helping retailers develop products and deal with related issues such as supply chain, waste and consumer understanding.
Technomic recently completed Retailer Meal Solutions: Capitalizing on the Next Generation, a new study that updates prior RMS research and provides new five-year forecasts, projected growth rates, and insights into the needs of consumers and retailers alike.
Over the past five years, supermarket prepared foods have grown more than 6% annually.
Mass merchandisers/supercenters have experienced annual prepared foods growth exceeding 13% over same time period.
While food margins are often slim, retailers have seen prepared foods margins strengthen and now view RMS as a profit center rather than a traffic driver. This development is fueling changes in store layout, labor utilization, merchandising, preparation practices, and prepared foods menus.
As the economy improves and consumers return to restaurants, retailers will need to continue raising the bar on their RMS offerings, particularly in terms of value and convenience.
Chicago-based Technomic provides consulting as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry. (CSP Daily News: www.cspnet.com)