Is seafood missing out on lunch?

Published on
April 18, 2010

While U.S. retailers realize that consumers are eating out less and preparing more food at home, they often fail to capitalize on that trend.

New research and advice from the NPD Group, Willard Bishop Consulting and the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council aim to help supermarkets become the source for quick, healthy meals.

If retailers become consumers' meal solutions provider, a grocery store with sales of USD 500,000 a week, for example, can add at least USD 11,000 a week to their profits, said Bill Bishop, president of Barrington, Ill.-based Willard Bishop Consulting, during a Food Institute-sponsored webinar on Thursday.

Lunch solutions are also often missed opportunities in grocery stores. Shoppers are looking for quick, healthy lunches, and sandwiches are the most popular meal for lunches.

"The use of frozen sandwiches and entrées at lunch is growing. There is a desire to make it easier to prepare lunch," said Bishop.

Because seafood has both health and flavor benefits, the frozen seafood category is growing faster than many other segments, said Bishop.

Helping consumers plan their meals is another often missed occasion, according to Joe Derochowski, executive director of Chicago-based research firm NPD Group's food and beverage services.

"Redesign the weekly circular, and plan it around meals instead of departments. Add web site features that make planning easier," said Derochowski.

NPD's "National Eating Trends" survey found that 58 percent of shoppers do a lot of menu planning at home before they go to the grocery store, and 24 percent plan their complete dinner at home.

"Four meals a week are planned at home before going into the store," noted Bishop.

Shoppers are planning their meals in advance primarily to save money (59 percent), because they believe their meals will be healthier (34 percent), and 29 percent simply like to cook. A majority of shoppers plan that evening's dinner one hour prior to going to the store. To that end, supermarkets can "tweet" customers at 4 p.m. about a special on rotisserie chicken or suggest easy, three-ingredient meals, said Bishop.

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