Consumer attitudes toward supermarket food preparation are changing. A strong demand for gourmet cooking persists over traditional takeout options. According to an article on Forbes, this trend is creating an opportunity for grocers to deliver unique meal options while creating a learning environment for actual chefs. That’s right, more and more supermarkets are hiring experienced chefs to enhance the customer experience and their overall revenue.
While this trend may be most prevalent in high-end, specialty grocers, chain supermarkets are also investing big bucks. Kroger recently announced plans to invest $2.5 million to remodel a Cincinnati location into a culinary training and education center. This will be a facility where hundreds of Kroger's trained, in-store chefs can share recipes and ideas. The goal behind this investment is that each of these chefs will take the lead on expanding the carry-out meal offerings for their individual stores.
Consumer Reports states, “Convenience may have fueled this (prepared foods) trend, but what’s keeping it going is a desire for meals we think are healthier than traditional takeout or dinners from the frozen-food aisle.” Consumer Reports’ research also tells us that over half of consumers buy from the prepared-meals section of their grocer, which translates to $29 billion worth of sales annually.
Market Track reviewed its promotional data for Kroger’s prepared meals over the past 24 months. We can see that Kroger's continued investment to improve the quality of these meals has led to a steady increase in its average promoted price. Consumers are willing to pay more for a chef-prepared meal, even when it’s purchased from a traditional grocery store. The chart below shows us that as the quality of Kroger’s prepared meals has improved, the associated cost for these offerings has also gone up.
In addition to the increase in average promoted price for its prepared meals, we’re also seeing more premium meals promoted in Kroger’s print circulars. Items like Anko Gazpacho Soup have been featured regularly in Kroger’s promotions over the past three months. We also see similar promotions for fully prepared pork back ribs and shrimp skewers. Each of these items break the traditional grocery deli offering while providing customers a quick, gourmet meal they can serve with ease.
Ryne Misso is the director of marketing at Market Track, a provider of market intelligence solutions based on comprehensive analysis of the advertising, promotional and e-commerce landscape.
Related story: Macy's Back-to-School Opportunity