Meal-solution retailers in the US must differentiate to survive, says Technomic

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 4th February 2013

New research from US firm Technomic has found that the well-developed retailer meal solutions market in the United States is shrinking, finding that just 38 per cent of US consumers are purchasing these from traditional supermarkets each week.

While many consumers flocked to supermarkets, warehouse clubs and mass merchandisers during the economic downturn, Technomic says that recovery from the recession is “reversing patterns set a couple of years ago.”

Vice President of Technomic Darren Tristano indicated that because ready-to-heat meal consumers in the US are turning towards diners, the retailers of the ready-to-heat meals will have to differentiate their brands to survive.

“For retailers to gain or maintain their share of foodservice dollars, they’ll need to clearly stand out from restaurants—especially since our data shows that consumers’ expectations are rising for the taste, quality, freshness and appearance of retailer prepared foods,” Mr Tristano said.

Technomic’s Retailer Meal Solutions Consumer Trend Report found that though half of US consumers think the quality of prepared foods has greatly improved since 2010, nearly two-fifths call for more name-brand foods that typically denote a higher quality perception.

Technomic found that some of the most popular retailer meal solution trends in the US include signature fried snacks; more variety for vegetable sides; higher-quality pizzas; a distinct specialty focus for sandwiches and burgers; and a move toward ethnic flavors.

Technomic’s 2012 Retailer Meal Solutions Consumer Trend Report is a comprehensive study that explores US retailer foodservice trends at traditional, upscale or fresh-format supermarkets; warehouse clubs; convenience stores; mass merchandisers and specialty food stores.

Image supplied by Gateway Market, an American ready-to-heat meal retailer.