Canada’s Retail Foodservice Reveals Growth and New Opportunities

The retailer meal solutions (RMS) category continues to thrive in Canada. In fact, it’s a foodservice segment that has revealed incremental growth of 1.3 percent, according to 2012 Technomic industry calculations. Shifting behavior and patronage is pushing this prepared-foods sector forward, as 42 percent of today’s consumers report purchasing RMS four times or more per month, compared to just 36 percent who did the same two years ago. What’s more, consumers are now purchasing lunch and dinner RMS from a wider variety of retailers than they were just two years ago.

In research conducted for our recent Canadian Retailer Meal Solutions Consumer Trend Report, we asked 1,000 Canadian consumers about their RMS usage, attitudes and preferences at a variety of retail locations, including traditional supermarkets, specialty food stores, convenience stores and mass merchandisers, among others.

Technomic found that consumers are responding to the affordability, convenience and growing variety that retailer foodservice has to offer. Grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches are an on-trend standout in the traditional supermarket arena, while specialty food stores are emerging as the new hotspots for lunch—and show the greatest year-over-year increase in lunch purchases than any other retail segment.

What’s Next: Outlook & Opportunities

While the future of RMS in Canada sounds promising, retail operators should seize the latest opportunities to keep the momentum going.  In order to gain—or even maintain—share of stomach, retailers should leverage several key needstates for prepared-foods formats:

  • Customization Counts—Consumers appreciate the opportunity to have their food made their way. The good news is that 30 percent of consumers already give retailers the edge on restaurants in this area. Retailers should continuously look for ways to promote made-to-order food and drink.
  • Keep it Clean—Consumers told Technomic that a messy prepared-foods area was a definite deal-breaker. Nine out of 10 respondents (89 percent) say that cleanliness is highly important to their purchasing decision. Keeping hot- and cold-food bars, open preparation areas and food stations immaculately clean is vital to drive RMS traffic.
  • The Appearance Factor—Eighty-two percent of consumers say that the appearance of prepared foods strongly influences their purchase. Since available foods are always on display for RMS, visual cues that clearly play up appealing attributes for prepared foods are a must.

Aimee Harvey

Aimee Harvey is an Editor at Technomic, Inc. Since 2003, she has delivered insights to Technomic products, including newsletters and trend-tracking reports, and has been a contributing editor for industry trade magazines. She currently provides menu analysis and trend forecasts for the firm’s Consumer Trend Reports series.

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