WASHINGTON -- Smaller retail operations which may have been hesitant to invest in a fresh meals format because of their size will find new reasons to launch such programs at this year's MealSolutions '98, according to organizers.
The show and conference, The Food Marketing Institute's third annual MealSolutions event, will be held at the Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, Fla., October 4-6. As it has in previous years, the conference will feature an "idea center" that showcases meals merchandising.
"This year, the idea center will be very hands-on, showing how, with good presentation, even a one-store operator can get into selling meals pretty easily," said Shari Steinbach, meal solutions & consumer affairs manager, for Spartan Stores, a Grand Rapids, Mich., wholesaler that supplies more than 500 supermarkets in the Midwest. "When this [HMR] trend first started, everybody thought you had to hire a chef or that if you weren't a big chain, you couldn't do it, but it doesn't have to be so complicated," Steinbach said.
Steinbach and other industry experts will staff the idea center and will show people how to implement strategies discussed in educational seminars which are also part of MealSolutions '98, she said.
Display cases will be set to demonstrate effective bundling of products to create a meal and to show how meals displays can lend themselves to cross merchandising items from all over the store, she explained.
In addition to ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat foods, value-added meat, in particular, will be spotlighted, Steinbach said.