Produce or Protein, the Organic Market Can Drive the Prepared Foods Section

With consumers becoming more health conscious due to the vast amount of information and options available to them, shoppers aren’t just looking for meals that are low in fat or calories, but rather foods that are organic. The organic food segment grew by 8.4% last year, showing customers are paying attention to what kind of food is on their plate. To give consumers choices based on the organic trend, there are various routes you could take with your meat or prepared food department.

While some may think of “organic” as solely foods you can find in the garden, organic meat and poultry are major contributors to the success of the organic market. In 2016, organic meat and poultry increased by more than 17% to $991 million, being the category’s largest annual gain since its introduction. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) stated at the current pace of sales, this section of organic can pass $1 billion in sales for 2017. Butchers can take advantage of this trend by offering both organic and non-organic versions of the same meat to appeal to buyers what are considerate of locally sourced, organic meats with the tradeoff being a higher price per pound for the organic route.

Prepared food departments can use more organic meats in dishes. Experimenting with new foods and tastes is popular among customers, both young and old, so the organic versions of popular dishes could pique the interests of eaters. If there are concerns that the cost of the organic dishes versus the standard prepared meals may scare away potential customers, selling organic meat snacks could be an alternative, being a cheaper cost option for customers and appealing to the rising snack market.

Produce has always been associated with the organic market due to leading sales in the category, so making dishes featuring organic vegetables is a great way to appeal to customers that are looking for organic food and don’t have time to cook on their own. Fruits and vegetables are worth $15.6 billion in the organic sector, which is around 40% of all organic food sales. Its growth rate is 8.4%, making a market worth the investment, especially considering the overall fruits and vegetable industry currently sees a 3.3% growth rate.

While these sales account for raw vegetables, advertising that organic produce is used in certain prepared foods can encourage customers to purchase various prepared meals who would’ve been skeptical of ingredients in standard offerings. One of the top prepared foods that can drive the prepared organic market is salad kits since they are linked to lower calorie meal options to begin with. In a Progressive Grocer discussion, Michael Golderman of Fresh Express, Inc, stated, “Consumers are demanding products in the organic segment that have been available in the conventional segment for years.”

However, dishes primarily with vegetables don’t have to be limited to salads or vegetarian meals, so maximize the creativity of your prepared foods department. Sautè meats with mixed veggies or add a side of vegetables with sandwiches or more elaborate meat dishes to utilize organic produce with meals. Even if the main ingredient or main course of the prepared meal is not labelled as organic, using organic fruits or veggies can be a make or break for your consumers. Meals don’t have to focus on the organic trend to take advantage of it. The little touches could be enough to drive customers.

Summer Grilling – Not Just for Burgers

With the summer weather showing its face, that also means grilling season has commenced. While many customers are heading outside to cook, whether it’s the park or the porch, not everyone has time to embrace the barbecue with their busy work schedule. That’s where the prepared food department at your local grocery store can fill the void. However, your standard meats alone do not satisfy the evolving tastes of the modern eater. [Read more…]

Small, targeted commercial equipment investments make a big difference

What’s stopping you from investing in better, smarter cooking or baking equipment for your commercial kitchen? Is it money? Is it space? Or is it plain old why-mess-with-a-good-thing inertia?

We’re not about to stop store managers who feel inclined to remodel their kitchens top to bottom. Still, business owners and decision-makers must know a large-scale, costly upgrade is no guarantee of success or even turnaround from past failings. A targeted approach, one that focuses on unique struggles and goals, has a greater potential to return in spades what a team puts into it. What are examples of such a method, and why do they work as well as they do? [Read more…]

Equipment must-haves for supermarket breakfast menus

Who doesn’t love breakfast? Yet even the meal we’ve long dubbed “most important” has seen a noticeable boom in popularity over the last year, particularly when it comes to the breakfast options offered at deli counters, supermarkets and grocery stores across the country.

Earlier this year, Progressive Grocer reported annual sales increases for deli-prepared breakfast items like sandwiches (14.2 percent), quiche (17.9 percent) and combo plates (17.2 percent) between February 2015 and 2016. Interestingly enough, omelet sales from the prepared foods department grew more than 210 percent in that same timeframe. [Read more…]

Demonstrate nutritional awareness in your prepared foods department with these 3 suggestions [w/ Infographic]

Why do shoppers choose prepared foods from their local supermarkets over restaurant and fast-food fare? If you ask the Food Marketing Institute, menu diversity has led to $15 billion in industry growth over the last eight years and cemented the perception that prepared foods are a fresher, healthier alternative to traditional dining options. [Read more…]

Snack food frenzy: What it takes to bring pizza and soft pretzels to your prepared foods department

Some days, you just have to treat yourself.

Snack foods get everyone’s attention — the sight and smell of a piping-hot pizza pie or a freshly baked soft pretzel makes everybody’s mouths water, which means they can both be real commercial successes for foodservice business owners considering selling these treats in their stores.

That said, supermarkets or grocery stores looking for a slice of the action shouldn’t let the fun times associated with these snacks cloud their judgment. Pizza and soft pretzels both require careful equipment considerations every investor should be aware of. [Read more…]

What does the modern meat eater want from their local grocer’s meat department?

People take their meat very seriously – when customers want products from grass-fed, free-range livestock with no antibiotics or additives, they’ll let you know and expect you to show them products that suit their discerning needs.

As of late, carnivorous consumers have begun acting uncharacteristically sheepish – a confluence of consumer trends have led to shoppers spending less on meat overall and purchasing meat less frequently when they do their grocery shopping. [Read more…]

Vacuum tumblers: Better for prepared foods, better for budgets [w/ Infographic]

Marination isn’t just culinary – it’s a science. And when prepared food departments understand that and invest in the right tools behind the counter, they turn out a better product more efficiently.

High-capacity vacuum tumblers are the cornerstone of smarter, more flavorful marinades, not to mention more cost-effective and timely operations from staff. What are vacuum tumblers? What enhancements can investors expect from this equipment? [Read more…]

Year-round BBQ: Making every meal taste like summer

Another Fall has officially arrived, and with it goes the summer and all its splendor. Another year of barbecuing has officially come to an end.

Goodbye, grill. We’ll see you again in 2017.

However, for local supermarkets and grocery stores, summer can last all year long provided they invest in the necessary prepared foods equipment to keep the party going. Beat back the cold weather blues by considering what these commercial assets could do to keep the spirit of summer alive, flavorful and profitable month after month. [Read more…]

5 reasons to entrust equipment training to specialists

Before any employee in a supermarket’s prepared foods department gets behind a grill or a deli slicer, they’ll require appropriate training. The same goes for long-time employees and newly acquired assets. However, who will provide the training? Sure, managers might be handy on certain equipment based on past experience, but does that make them an expert? And what about new assets no one is familiar with? [Read more…]