repared foods used to mean displaying
rotisserie chickens and pulling pizzas, but
today’s retail foodservice presents a feast of
fresh and global flavors, with sushi programs
increasingly stealing the show.
Supermarket sushi stations have seen “rapid success,”
going toe to toe with meal kits and fueling sales growth,
according to Nielsen.
“While traditional sushi sales have slowed from the
12% it averaged each of the past three years, poke bowls
and poke stations, often complemented by [nigiri] or
other sides, posted dollar sales growth of 9% for the 52
weeks ended June 30, 2018,” Nielsen says.
ShopRite Does Sushi Right
“Sushi programs are very important to our foodservice
programming,” says Geoffrey Wexler, VP of foodser-
vice for Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern Food Corp. “The
programs tick all the boxes required for the consumer of
today: theater, freshness, unique flavor combinations,
customization, portability, snackability and health.”
Wakefern’s ShopRite stores have offered sushi for
more than 20 years and currently offer it—mostly made
in-store—in nearly 200 locations.
ShopRite sushi chefs create made-to-order items and
offer a variety of flavors and platter sizes, as well as pre-
made sushi for quick convenience purchases. “The pro-
grams are designed for portability and are well-marked so
customers can easily navigate the offering,” Wexler says.
While ShopRite’s sushi programs provide mainstays such
as California rolls, nigiri and more, individual stores are
empowered to know their customer base and preferences,
and tailor offerings accordingly. “Our operators are true
entrepreneurs that learn the preferences of their consumers
and advise their sushi partners to modify their offerings to
best meet the needs of their consumers,” he says.
As such, sushi is just one element of ShopRite’s programming, which also includes sashimi, poke, sushi bur-ritos and sushi doughnuts. Many of Wakefern’s ShopRite
members also offer items complementary to sushi, including ramen and Pan Asian grab-and-go meals, as well as
hot bars and action stations, such as the Sizzling Wok.
“Our evolution will continue as we expand into nontraditional sushi products, limited-time-offer flavors and
products, bundling and possibly continuity programming,” says Wexler.
While new flavor creations and twists on the traditional
are part of the culinary experience offered by ShopRite’s
sushi program, it is clear that sushi is here to stay. “Sushi
has become a destination category within our stores,”
“Great sushi is all about freshness, with beauty found
in the simplicity from artisan sushi chefs. It epitomizes
our true north.”
The Beauty of Sushi
With its Snowfox Sushi program, JFE Franchising Inc. of
Houston has seen sushi go from supermarket sideshow to
center stage. “The past 15 years have really been a proving
ground for sushi as a category,” says Paul Yi, new business
development for JFE. “Now if a supermarket doesn’t offer
Sushi programs deliver theater and sales to
the supermarket deli. By Jennifer Strailey
Sushi has seen strong
growth in grocery and
drugstores in the past
year, while convenience
stores have experienced
a steep decline in sushi