Food Marketing Institute (FMI, fmi.org) has released its inaugural analysis, "The Power of Fresh Prepared/Deli," which explores fresh prepared and deli foods through the eyes of the consumer. Grounded in Nielsen (nielsen.com) data, the research outlines how the supermarket industry will continue to identify improved ways to track consumer dynamics, convenience and household trends that have had a profound impact on meal preparation and shopping behaviors regarding fresh prepared foods.
The report uncovers insights on consumer buying behaviors for fresh prepared food choices to better identify what choices consumers are making and how they are determining where and what they will eat. Key opportunities and strategies for retailers and their suppliers are identified in the fresh/deli space.
“Understanding the choices consumers make in the grocery store are vital in helping retailers drive image, reputation and trips to the fresh prepared and deli section,” says Sarah Schmansky, director of Nielsen Fresh. “Improvements to drive increased fresh-prepared purchases can be approached in many different ways, including meal solution type, operational improvements and aligning specific food items and featured cuisines most closely to the intended store audience.”
“The research shows that an increasing number of consumers are only buying a portion of the meal that’s already prepared and taking it home to combine it with ‘from scratch’ ingredients from their kitchen, which offers retailers valuable insight as they begin to think of connecting the consumer who buys the whole rotisserie chicken with other areas of the store,” FMI vice president of Fresh Foods, Rick Stein, says. “Aligning these meal and recipe solutions with ambiance, atmosphere and experiential factors suggest evolving expectations among grocery customers.”
Driving image, reputation and trips is important to grow deli/fresh prepared, particularly as store/deli visits are declining. Fresh/deli prepared had 96% penetration yet only 12% of consumers visit the deli with regularity across channels and banners. Making deli/fresh prepared a true point of differentiation can pay huge dividends for the department and total store.
Tying into mega trends and touting health and wellness claims may accelerate sales growth in deli/fresh prepared. Shoppers are interested in seeing deli/fresh prepared featuring organic, locally sourced, non-GMO, gluten free and other mega trend- inspired foods that are aggressively growing sales in other parts of the store.
Focus on convenience as the overarching advantage of deli/fresh prepared versus home-cooked meals. Extensive variety helps suit different preferences among household members.
Other advantages include saving money on potentially discarded food and offering more convenient options for those who do not or cannot cook on a given occasion.
Elevate the profile of the food itself: driving food theater, ambiance, customization, professional chefs and meal inspiration. When compared with restaurants, shoppers see the ability to combine errands and time savings as the top two advantages of deli/fresh prepared.
Offer variety across all types of meal options, including number of options, cuisines and regular rotation of offerings. Constant innovation is required to stay on top of flavors, ingredients and customizable options, primarily around mainstream, premium and value options.