There is no escaping the fact that food is big business.
In the US alone, we spent $5.32 trillion on retail and food services in 2015, and that figure is increasing every year. We all need food to live, and as the population grows so, too, does demand.
What is also changing is the type of food we consume, with medical experts around the globe urging us to make healthier choices. There’s good reason for this: in the US, more than two-thirds (68.8%) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese, with almost 3 in 4 men (74%) falling into that category.
This, in turn, leads to major health problems – such as Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, liver and kidney disease, and cancer – costing the US billions of dollars every year.
Meeting the Challenge
While the intention may be there to improve our diets, are retailers and takeaway food outlets meeting the demand? The challenge is this: not only is there an incorrect preconception that healthy eating is more expensive, but we also need to work this new approach into our daily routine.
There was a time when many Americans could return home for lunch, making it more likely they would consume a healthy, balanced meal. But today’s time-poor culture makes that near-impossible, which has lead to a greater reliance on takeaway food and those frightening obesity statistics.
Most traditional takeaway food is unhealthy: fries, burgers, melts, fried chicken. But it’s fast and filling and if you’ve only got a 30-minute break, it will just have to do. Or will it? Maybe not, as we are increasingly seeing demand for healthier choices, such as salads, wraps, and sandwiches.
The Demand Is There
When you study statistics, it makes real business sense for more convenience store retailers to stock those healthy choice snacks and meals. The market is definitely there. For example, two-thirds (66%) of working Americans buy their lunch, instead of packing it, costing them an average of $37 per week – nearly $2,000 a year.
That’s one American worker. How many workers are there within your retail area? A share of that expenditure would clearly be of benefit to your bottom line.
Your business has access to a substantial number of potential takeaway breakfast and lunch customers if you provide the products they demand. Too many of us are way too busy in the mornings to organize a packed lunch or even breakfast. And then there are the shift workers, who really don’t feel like eating at 4am.
Pre-Packaged Healthy Choices
This is a largely untapped market that you should be targeting. There’s another group, too. The extreme time poor sector who regularly work late, and want to pick up something easy and healthy to take home for dinner.
Should be easy, right, to meet this demand? Except you don’t have the time or the resources to prepare that much fresh food every day when you’ve got an entire business to run. There is a great solution.
American consumers are increasingly attracted to pre-prepared, pre-packaged healthy choices – particularly Millennials and Generation Z – and that’s something retailers should definitely be exploring. These generations have more disposable income and are willing to pay for the health benefits they can gain from eating fresh food.
More Stores Now Selling Fresh Produce
Seeing the potential value of this trend, retailers are responding to the demand, with 77% of NACS (National Association of Convenience Stores) members now stocking fresh produce.
However, if you thought these retailers were getting up extra early to make all these delicious, fresh salads, wraps, sandwiches and more, you’d be wrong! Because every State is different, retailers are seeking customized turnkey foodservice solutions, to lure customers away from traditional takeaway food outlets, and into their store.
The beauty of this solution is that the retailer benefits from a whole army of creative chefs, nutritionists, and logistic experts, without having to pay their wages! Instead, they place their orders and await delivery, which is usually the same day, to maximize product quality and shelf life.
From breakfast sandwiches, wraps and salads to soups, sides, freshly prepared fruit salads, healthy snacks, bakery and beverages, the retailer now has an exciting, healthy, beautifully presented range to offer his customers. But it doesn’t end there.
Education and Marketing
While there is already a market for these products, the smart retailer will be looking to boost sales by ‘converting’ other shoppers. And that largely comes down to education and marketing.
Merchandising is not a new concept, but there are certain methods which can further boost your chances of a sale. The emphasis here is on ‘fresh’, ‘clean’ and ‘healthy’.
Displaying your fresh choice selection at eye level, in the busiest area of your store, or even near the checkout, will boost sales. Use the most attractive items to draw the customer’s eye, and prominently place the products offering you the biggest profit margin.
People shop with their eyes – so presentation is everything – and their brains – which is why cross-merchandising is recommended. Educate your customers by providing information about the new range and the benefits of eating ‘fresh’, and introduce new products on a regular basis.
Promotions are great. A smiling face offering customers a sample is very hard to refuse. In most cases, the customer will buy.
The Facts Prove It
Research shows that once a customized fresh food program is introduced, the number of store visits per month per customer increases by 37%, with the dollar spend up by 23%. The number of products bought per visit increases to an impressive 156%.
Remember, half the battle is already won, because the majority of customers WANT to make this change to their lifestyle. When asked what would encourage them to eat food from a convenience store rather than a coffee shop or fast food outlet, respondents cited “higher quality of fresh food” and “greater selection of fresh food.”
Global sales of healthy food are predicted to reach $1 trillion by 2017, and 88% of consumers surveyed said they were willing to pay more for healthier foods. If that’s not an incentive to add a customized fresh foods to your product line, what is?