Elevate and expand deli options to drive foot traffic, sales storewide, FMI study says

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Source: iStock
Source: iStock

Related tags: Food, Cooking

While the freshly prepared deli category already generates a whopping $24 billion annually, it currently is achieving a fraction of its potential, suggests new research from the Food Marketing Institute.

The deli counter currently has a 96% penetration, but only 12% of shoppers visit the deli with regularity across channels and banners, according to FMI’s The Power of Fresh Prepared/Deli, which uses Nielsen data.

It suggests retailers can bump up the percent of customers who regularly visit the deli by elevating their selection.

“Shoppers are highly interested in seeing deli/fresh prepared featuring organic, locally-sourced, non-GMO, gluten-free and other mega trend inspired foods that are aggressively growing sales in other parts of the store,”​ according to the report.

Shoppers also want to see a variety of options, including mainstream, premium and value options, and chef-prepared or -inspired meals.

“Constant innovation is required to stay on top of flavors, ingredients and customizable options. Interest levels vary widely by cuisine type, but many of the more ethnic cuisines seeing much higher uptake among Millennials,”​ according to the report.

Appearances matter

The format of the food also matters, the research found.

“Meals that are freshly prepared but pre-packaged for heat-and-serve consumption draw the highest interest across channels, particularly among shoppers focused on speed,”​ it notes. But, the report adds, “meal kits that include all the ingredients to cook one meal are a close second.”

How the food is presented is equally important.

The report recommends retailers “elevate the profile of the food itself”​ through food theater, ambiance, customizations, professional chefs and meal inspirations.

The last point can also help drive purchases in other parts of the store, according to the report. It found many deli shoppers like to combine pre-made items with other ingredients that they can prepare from scratch for a complete meal.

Retailers and manufacturers can help by providing recipes and meal pairing ideas, the report suggests.

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