Foodservice is an ongoing demand and an integral part of your convenience or grocery store’s success. While plenty of stores out there had already emphasized prepared foods via made-to-order store sections and hot prepared food services. Grab-and-go meals were virtually limited to the basics — like sandwiches and protein trays.
That is until the pandemic hit, reinforcing the need for stronger — and more dynamic — grab-and-go meal offers.
However, even with things returning back to normal, the demand for quick and quality food options isn’t going anywhere. Kids are back at school, people are returning back to the office, and lines are longer than ever.
If you haven’t asked your grocery store distributors or your convenience store distributors about their grab-and-go meal options, you’re doing your business a disservice. Keep reading to learn more.
Grab-and-Go Vs Made-to-Order
Put simply, grab-and-go food service refers to freshly prepared meals that are packaged ahead of time so consumers can easily grab the item and go. Sandwiches are still usually the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about grab-and-go meals, but there is a multitude of options out there to meet the needs of emerging consumer types — such as the grab-and-go home type.
Made-to-order refers to the foods that a consumer must order first before it’s prepared and boxed up. These foods have always been the “convenient dinner option”. It’s essentially takeout that saves time and effort on shopping and cooking.
Made-to-order food has also always had the advantage of being perceived as fresh and of higher quality while grab-and-go food seemed to be the opposite. However, grab-and-go meals have expanded beyond hard-boiled eggs and sandwiches to full restaurant-style meals and much healthier options.
Why Your Store Needs Grab-and-Go Meals
The entire concept behind grab-and-go meals is to bring food service offerings to peak convenience. In other words, the goal is to meet the needs of consumers making quick stops for food not to just eat on the go but to take home to enjoy.
A large part of that convenience has to do with eliminating the time it takes to shop for ingredients and cook a meal from scratch. Grab-and-go meals also tend to provide servings that can feed a family of four at a much lower price compared to purchasing the individual ingredients or ordering takeout from a local restaurant.
According to data gathered by NACS State of the Industry (SOI), the number of perishable groceries sold in the convenience retail space increased by 87.7% between 2017 and 2018. This would include the pre-packaged grab-and-go meals, bringing incremental sales into the category moving into the pandemic years.
Moreover, deli sections in grocery stores are well-known for being a consistent source of annual sales growth. Consumers are increasingly looking for more convenient meal options. By the end of February 2019, it had been concluded that deli sections had generated $36.6 billion in sales. All thanks to a wider range of grab-and-go options.
While these may be pre-pandemic numbers, there has been a noticeable shift in grab-and-go meals in today’s consumer purchasing patterns. The motivation behind these patterns remains the same, however, reflecting the need for speed and convenience. The only difference is that now consumers aren’t only “grabbing and going” for themselves, but for the other hungry people in their households as well.
Coupled with this new era of working remotely, both convenience and grocery stores aren’t just seeing quick dinner trips geared towards grab-and-go meals. They’re also witnessing consumers making multiple trips from morning to night, especially those with relative proximity to local stores.
What to Offer in Your Store
The key to a successful grab-and-go meal menu is, once again, meeting your customers in the middle. Getting started with these meals may take some trial and error, but you don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel.
Depending on your store, your grab-and-go selection may range from fresh fruits to larger portion options. However, your main focus should be on emphasizing accessibility to a variety of meal options.
For example, offer different portion sizes for certain meals, offer bundle deals, meal prep kits, fresh and frozen options, and packaging designed for multiples of the same food items — like cheese and crackers. From there, observe what sells and what doesn’t.
You’ll also need to get in touch with your wholesale grocery distributors or convenience store distributors. You need to determine what they can effectively offer. That’s where we come in.
Here at Atlantic Dominion Distributors, we can offer your store a wide range of fresh and high-quality grab-and-go meal options as well as technological solutions to streamline your customers’ grab-and-go process via self-checkout kiosks.
Get in touch with us to learn more!