DAYTON, Ohio -- Supermarkets are expanding their hot-food programs, but they're cutting back on variety and in-store preparation. This was revealed in a survey of 31 deli executives representing 1,900 supermarkets conducted by Solganik & Associates, a consulting firm here.
> "Hot food is not going away," said Howard Solganik, president of Solganik & Associates. "At one point, we thought it might because of difficulties in execution, but it's just getting more focused."
Those responses indicate significant shifts compared to survey research from two years ago, when 62% of respondents said they planned expansion, and only 58% said they favored offering fewer than 10 items. Also, 80% said they had food prepared from scratch by a cook in at least one store.
All respondents said they carry what Solganik called "American basics," such as chicken, pizza and hamburgers. Fifty-eight percent also said they have Italian items and 45% said they were carrying Asian hot foods. Two years ago, more retailers (65%) had Asian fare, and that compared to only 46% who had Italian items.
"More people are realizing the difficulty of pulling off the profitable execution [of an Asian menu]," Solganik said. "On the other hand, Italian items lend themselves to hot food."