Grocers launch innovative seafood meals-to-go
Prepared seafood meals that are ready for shoppers to quickly bake or grill at home are becoming more common in U.S. supermarket chains. And some grocers are finding success with new types of packaging and seafood offerings in their meals-to-go program.
For example, DePere, Wisconsin-based Skogen’s Festival Foods recently added more seafood items to its One Step Prep meal program, such as marinated, seasoned Atlantic salmon fillets and encrusted tilapia fillets, sold in microwavable packages.
One Step Prep recipes are researched and developed in-house for Skogen’s 31 stores, as is the packaging.
“By developing these entrees, our employees become true experts on the products and can further help our shoppers in making good buying decisions,” said Brian Stenzel, community involvement director for Skogen’s. “We also continue to add new value-added profiles, such as Panko Encrusted Tilapia, Marinated Skinless Salmon Fillets, and varieties of seafood kabobs.”
Similarly, Malvern, Pennsylvania-based Acme Markets’ Take Bake or Grill program, which features fish such as tilapia cod and flounder and marinades, butters and encrusted items, has been taking off.
“It’s not just millennials who are looking for convenience; it’s everyone,” said Charlie Bell, assistant sales manager for meat, seafood and pre-packed at Acme Markets, a 179-store chain owned by Albertsons. “Once we explain that the tray is oven-ready and there is no cleanup, customers are starting to gravitate towards it and are making repeat purchases.”
With the program’s success, Acme is now planning to launch fresh poke offerings from its seafood counter, featuring tuna, salmon and sauces such as teriyaki, later this year. Acme will receive the tuna and salmon in frozen cubes, refresh them and add sauce.
“We will launch it in 15 to 25 stores, do demos, and see how it grows from there,” Bell said.
Cleveland, Ohio-based Heinen’s Fine Foods, which has had a strong prepared seafood program for years, is also expanding its in-house value-added seafood offerings. Heinen’s recently added whole stuffed farmed bronzino, rainbow trout, golden trout, and other species. The fish is stuffed with fresh herbs and sometimes topped with orange slices, and is ready for shoppers to bake or grill. The whole fish is selling well because it is something new and different for customers, said Marty Gaul, seafood director at Heinen’s, which operates 22 stores.
“We are expanding our value-added, as far as categories within the store,” Gaul said. “Customers want something that is already done, [where] all they have to do is take it home."