CHICAGO — Technomic, in a new research report, shows that retailers are serious about competing with restaurants.
Competitive pricing, improved quality of prepared foods and more variety have positioned retailers' foodservice programs well to capture customers seeking a meal, Technomic's researchers said. They've made it increasingly easy to pass on dining out at a restaurant, their report states.
Researchers pointed out that retailers have gone far beyond the basics like rotisserie chicken and mac and cheese, and are trying out items with an ethnic flair such as Korean-style barbecue, Hispanic baked goods, Mediterranean salads and gourmet versions of old favorites such as chicken wings in a huge variety of flavors.
Jenny Anderson, manager of the research project, said restaurant trends are migrating more quickly to retailers' meal solution programs, and retailers are marketing their prepared foods as “restaurant quality,” and have put new emphasis on on-site dining. She cites the The Bistro at Kroger, food courts in Hy-Vee stores and The Pub at Wegmans.
The researchers also pointed out that retailers, in their marketing, are underscoring the convenience that buying prepared food by the pound offers budget-minded consumers who want to make sure they don't waste anything.
The foodservice consultancy has become slightly more bullish on the restaurant industry's prospects this year. Last week, it adjusted its nominal growth forecast for the industry up from a projected decline of 1.6% to positive growth of 0.6%, citing better-than-expected performance in several segments so far this year.