business news in context, analysis with attitude

FMI-The Food Industry Association yesterday released its inaugural The State of Fresh Foods report, which it said "highlights findings from the-soon-to-be-released The Food Retailing Industry Speaks 2022 analysis and substantiates unwavering momentum for fresh foods departments in grocery."

One major surprise:  "Fresh food offerings are becoming more prominent players in ecommerce. Fresh or perimeter departments now comprise 40% of all online sales, rivaling dry grocery online sales (41%) and surpassing frozen online sales (11%)."

Some other highlights:

•  "Food retailers are re-envisioning fresh foods departments with enhanced space allocation and increased staff. Eighty-two percent are planning to grow the space allocation for fresh-prepared grab-and-go options, while others are increasing space for fresh-prepared chef made-to-order stations (35%) or fresh-prepared self-service (29%). Retailers are also increasing staff for foodservice (44% of retailers planning), trained or certified chefs (22%), in-store dining (20%), and scratch bakers or pastry chefs (18%)."

•  "Food retailers surveyed are getting creative with their service differentiation strategies by experimenting with new consumer touchpoints, like in-store dining (51%), a coffee bar (39%), online ordering and pickup/delivery of foodservice offerings (33%), catering services (30%), a juice bar (20%) and a full-service restaurant (13%).

"However, the success of these programs has been mixed. Retailers report a success rate of as high as 60% for juice bars to as low as 13% for online ordering and pickup/delivery of foodservice offerings, revealing an opportunity for retailers to explore other specialty options."

KC's View:

The thing is, fresh foods always has been the segment in which food retailers could differentiate themselves.  The vast majority of items sold in most stores are sold in every store, but it is in fresh - with an investment in innovation - that companies can present a unique and fresh - pun intended - to shoppers.

Here's a mandate you should give your stores:

Each fresh department will have at least one totally unique item that the competition does not have … and will be charged with creating at least one new completely unique item each quarter.  No exceptions.  Total employee participation will be not only encouraged, but rewarded.  (One additional priority here:  Henceforth, we only will use the term "fresh food."  Never "perishables," because perishables rot.)

Start there … and maybe give FMI something really extraordinary to talk about next time it issues this report.