- Roughly 66% of consumers purchase prepared food items from a retail location at least three times a month, according to a new report from Technomic. This is an 11% increase compared to 55% of survey respondents in 2017.
- Seventy-three percent of retail prepared food purchases are taken to go, while 47% of respondents report consuming their purchase immediately rather than saving it to eat later.
- Among grocery delivery users, 71% of respondents said they would add a prepared food item to their orders at least occasionally if it was available.
According to the report, prepared food purchases are frequently a planned purchase among 59% of shoppers, while 41% of shoppers said they buy prepared foods on impulse. Dinner has the highest amount of prepared food buys with 79% of respondents making purchases for that meal, while lunch comes in at 77% and breakfast at 62%.
Many retailers have boosted the prepared food selections in their delis to meet the demand for prepared foods. For example, Stop & Shop recently added wing bars to 187 locations featuring eight varieties of wings and Whole Foods began stocking ready-to-eat meals from Snap Kitchen late last year to expand its selection.
According to a statement from Bret Yonke, manager of consumer insights at Technomic, prepared foods are just one piece of the larger retail foodservice picture.
"Moving forward, full-service restaurant and food hall experiences will begin to roll out more frequently, which is likely to encourage consumers to consider retail foodservice for a wider variety of occasions," Yonke said.
To that end, many grocers have brought popular restaurants in-house to expand offerings and differentiate with made-to-order meals. Kroger recently brought Ohio-based Rapid Fire Pizza and Tony Packo’s quick-serve hot dog stands to some of its locations, while Hy-Vee operates several Wahlburger’s restaurants adjacent to its stores.
As for prepared food delivery, grocers are just beginning to explore the opportunities and have a ways to go before it's widely available. Some retailers have added their ready-to-eat options to online offerings including Shipt partners Costco, H-E-B and Meijer. Wegmans also offers an e-commerce meal delivery service called Wegmans Meals 2GO, and Instacart delivers Publix pub subs and a variety of hot foods for delivery.