n 2018, optimizing foodservice offerings is
the leading strategic priority of many top banners in the country. And stores that are investing in their foodservice programs are reaping
the greatest sales rewards, according to data from
Winsight Grocery Business sister research company Technomic.
That news, from WGB’s inaugural State of Retail Foodservice report, done in conjunction with Technomic, not
only underscores the importance of retail foodservice but
also suggests the important role equipment can play in
building a profitable prepared foods operation.
Consumer Trends Have an Impact
As the retail and foodservice landscapes become more
entwined, it’s important to explore consumer eating and
shopping trends that are affecting equipment selection in
the grocery retail space today. The increasing demand for
grab-and-go offerings is one example.
“Grab-and-go deli meats and cheeses are increasingly
popular in the grocery arena; these are fresh-sliced in the
deli each morning and packaged for easy pickup by shop-
pers,” says Carolyn Bilger, senior marketing manager for
Hobart Food Machines, Troy, Ohio. “Having a slicer that
can provide consistent slicing is important for improving
the grab-and-go customer experience and for reducing
waste in the deli.”
Duncan Blowers, president of Henkelman Inc., Elm-
hurst, Ill., also cites the grab-and-go phenomenon as a
sales driver for products such as the company’s CombiVac
vacuum sealers. “There is a trend building toward having
convenient, almost restaurant-quality meals that require
no preparation for the consumer,” Blowers says.
The effects of online ordering is yet another top trend.
“The increase in the [amount of] prepared foods at grocery stores has definitely changed the fresh department’s
service counter landscape,” says Guy Dille, retail business
area leader for Columbus, Ohio-based Mettler Toledo, a
manufacturer of equipment such as scales.
“With various meal combos and custom orders, today’s
retailers are faced with the dilemma of how to offer a
diverse selection of fresh prepared meals without invit-
ing a blizzard of bookkeeping complications,” Dille says.
“Many retailers are also concerned that they must add
costs by creating separate spaces for items to be weighed
and labels printed for a separate checkout.”
Carlos Quintero, sales and marketing director for com-
mercial juicer maker Zumex USA, based in Miami, points
to healthy eating as an important trend. “The consumer is
looking for honesty and transparency—100% natural in
terms of fresh products,” Quintero says.
Retailers are also being challenged “to offer restaurant-quality foods, healthy options and meal kits that are
finished in home kitchens,” says Marcus Glueck, EVP of
Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based Rational North America, an
equipment manufacturer whose signature item is its SelfCookingCenter combi oven. “Interestingly, as consumers
replace traditional home meals, they are seeking more than
ready-to-eat meals, and retailers are responding,” Glueck
says. “Grocery store cooking also is expanding beyond the
deli and grocerant areas of the store. We are seeing special
interest from meat and seafood departments that want to
offer customers more than steamed seafood items.”
Optimizing Efficiency and ROI
To stay abreast of current trends, retailers are looking for
equipment targeted to energy efficiency, flexibility, portion control, food safety and overall attractive presentation, says Michael Komendat, project development and
product manager of serving systems and components for
The Vollrath Co., Sheboygan, Wis.
Increased productivity and increased transparency
into real-time transactions, reporting and category man-
Invest for Success
How retailers can make the most of investments in retail
foodservice equipment. By Kathleen Furore
Equipment & Design