How grocers can leverage the growing foodservice industry

Food Marketing Institute breaks down what consumers are looking for from grocerants
The grab-and-go section at Longo's Yonge and Sheppard location in Toronto.

A new report from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) looks at the challenges and opportunities for grocers when it comes the US$13 billion category of foodservice.

According to FMI’s fourth annual Power of Foodservice at Retail report, foodservice is growing annually at 8.2% in the U.S. and can be a primary strategy for food retailers to differentiate and appeal to convenience-seeking consumers.

The report also finds that 63% of consumers continue to incorporate time-saving solutions in the form of semi- and fully-prepared items for dinner, but opportunities exist for grocers to garner greater visibility as the primary dinner solution. Survey participants were seeking faster service; more cuisine variety; healthier dishes as well as healthier alternatives to current options; competitive prices; more information; freshness; knowledgeable and available staff; and various operational improvements such as cleanliness and in-stock performance.

FMI vice-president of fresh foods Rick Stein said consumers continued to look for convenient ways to get all–or part–of their meals away from home, and supermarkets play a pivotal role in this decision making.

“Competitive differentiation strategies are abound for our grocery members who place an emphasis on variety and reduce obstacles through fast and convenient shopping experiences. These experiences may also be enabled by technology, as we’re witness to similar motivations in the restaurant industry,” said Stein.

Here's some of the other top takeaways from the report:

Need for variety

  • Eighty-eight per cent of shoppers want to see more new items and flavours in retail foodservice. In fact, the most frequently mentioned word in the open-ended suggestions of the survey was “more” in combination with words such as variety, food, options and items.

  • The highest share, at 31%, want to see flavour and item rotation on a monthly basis, but 28% want even greater levels of innovation and recommend a weekly or even daily rotation.

Need for speed

  • The importance of speed is once more underscored by the grab-and-go, ready-to-eat format being the most popular method, which is of interest to 68% of shoppers.

Need for technology

  • While 57% of shoppers have grocery store apps downloaded, 42% actively use one or more

  • Apps are used to check weekly specials (78%), placing online grocery orders (53%), getting recipes and meal ideas and researching the deli-prepared foods menu, and foodservice orders (38%)

A version of this article appeared at

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