G rocers’ grab-and-go meal choices have come a long way from the rotisserie chicken.
Today’s food retailers understand
the need to provide crowd-pleasing,
convenient choices to satisfy shoppers
with a wide variety of tastes.
And shoppers are responding.
Prepared foods are one of the fastest
growing sales categories across the
grocery industry, according to Nielsen
figures. Not surprisingly, many of the
same foods that sell well in restaurants
pop up on supermarkets’ hot bu;ets:
pizza, wings, pasta, fried chicken,
mashed potatoes and soups are
perennial favorites. For the one-fifth
of consumers who say that they prefer
sticking to their favorite flavors/foods
and rarely try new ones (including
23% of baby boomers), according to
Technomic’s 2017 Flavor report, it’s no
surprise these nostalgic comfort foods
are at the top of some shoppers’ lists.
TAKE A LOOK AT
WHAT’S ON TREND IN
GROCERY HOT BARS
Wisconsin’s Festival Foods grocery
chain mixes up its regular o;erings—
rotisserie chicken, baked and fried
chicken, potato wedges, gourmet
vegetable blend and mashed potatoes
with gravy—with daily features that
change from week to week. Rotating
selections include a chili and soup; a
vegetable of the day, mac and cheese,
and other comfort favorites. Some
weeks feature Taco Tuesday, with
tacos, fajitas, enchiladas and all the
fixings, or Supper Club Friday, o;ering
fried and baked fish, beef tips over
noodles and baked potatoes.
Revolution Market in Ft. Collins,
Colo., o;ers a rotating selection of
two-person ready-made meals that
includes something for every appetite
including lasagna, Pad Thai, mac and
cheese and meatloaf, with recipes
adjusted throughout the year to
accommodate seasonal produce.
And Massachusetts-based Star
Markets’ 20 units contain a hot bar
with entrees, sides, soup and four
types of wings. Star Markets also
o;ers ready-to-go choices such as
brisket, breaded chicken breast and
Mac and cheese is a standard dish
found on many food bars, but Whole
Foods took the humble but beloved
dish up a notch—and stirred up a
frenzy of media excitement—with
the debut of its first mac and cheese
bar at a new store in Denver last fall.
The bar, at the Union Station store,
o;ers classic mac and cheese along
with a rotating selection that includes
barbecued pulled pork, green chilies,
roasted tomato, bu;alo chicken, bacon
cheeseburger, broccoli, and carnitas
and smoked mozzarella versions. A
vegan alternative is also available.
Another mac and cheese bar at a new
Honolulu Whole Foods also sells pork
belly, jalapeno and brisket versions.
Hot bars that spotlight wings are
also landing in more supermarkets.
Roche Brothers, with 18 stores in
Massachusetts, serves honey, maple
bourbon, Carolina BBQ, sweet teriyaki
and Bu;alo-style wings as well as
“flats and drummies”—breaded and
fried mini wing parts.
Regardless of the selection, hot bars
increasingly satisfy the “What’s for
Lunch? What’s for dinner?” quandary
so many consumers face today.
BARS DISH UP