This post is sponsored by Sweet Street.
In-store dining and take-out of prepared foods from so-called “grocerants” has grown nearly 30% since 2008, according to research from NPD Group. In an effort to grab a piece of this growing grocery foodservice market, more supermarkets are hiring chefs and expanding their prepared food offerings to include more fresh, high-quality meals and snacks that answer consumer demand for great-tasting, convenient food options made with natural ingredients.
These on-trend options are attracting millennials, who are the main driver of grocerant growth, according to NPD Group.
“Millennials’ interest in the benefits and experience supermarket foodservice offers will continue to be strong over the next several years,” NPD analyst David Portalatin said in statement accompanying the research groups’ report, “A Generational Study: The Evolution of Eating,” released in 2016. “Give the millennials what they want — fresh, healthier fare and a decent price — and they will come.”
While health is high on the list for many diners, that doesn’t mean sweets and other indulgences are off the menu, but consumers are looking for desserts with natural ingredients. More than half of shoppers said they would be more likely to purchase desserts that are preservative-free, GMO-free and made with hormone-free dairy, according to the Consumer Planning Program 2017 study released by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association in partnership with Datassential.
Several major supermarket chains offer dessert options from Pennsylvania-based Sweet Street, which produces a range of baked goods that feature premium, on-trend ingredients. The company’s Manifesto line of cookies and bars is free of additives and GMOs and made with sustainable chocolates, cage-free eggs and hormone-free dairy.
Bake-off cookies and thaw-and-serve bars can be displayed at food stations or in pastry cases and have a high-impact look that requires minimal effort from store staff. Pre-packaged items are ideal for grab-and-go, and can be eaten while shoppers are on their way home or even while they shop.
Beyond convenience, another benefit of individually wrapped items for retail foodservice is protection from cross-contamination, which can be a concern for consumers who have food allergies. Sweet Street’s Chewy Marshmallow Manifesto Bar is gluten-free, and its clear wrapper lets consumers see what they’re purchasing while also giving them confidence that it didn’t come into contact with potential allergens.
Offering options designed for gluten-free or other special diets can help in-store restaurants avoid the veto vote and boost their reputation with diners, food marketing expert Phil Lempert writes on his website Supermarket Guru. “Grocerants that create dishes specifically for these health concerns, and dedicate themselves to execute them well, will differentiate from many nearby casual eateries and fortify a destination image for both the grocerant and the supermarket,” writes Lempert, who runs the Foodservice@Retail: The Great Grocerant educational program for the National Restaurant Association. A report released by the trade association last year found that in-store restaurants were on track to grow 3.5% in 2017 and book sales of about $42.3 billion — a figure which should compel supermarket chefs and foodservice directors to design menus geared toward consumers’ needs.
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