“During the last couple of years, consumers for a long time weren’t really comfortable with going to restaurants,” said Nathan Roe, customer marketing and analytics for Reser’s Fine Foods in Beaverton, Oregon. “They didn’t want to go restaurants. They went to the grocery store and the grocery industry benefited.”
Reser’s Fine Foods is one of the country’s largest family-owned and operated prepared foods businesses. Beginning in 1950, Reser’s Salads moved its potato salads into local retailers. Now, the company has a wide variety of products, including deli salads and dips.
Last fall, Reser’s launched churro cheesecake dip as an addition to its sweets products line, which includes strawberry parfait, pumpkin mousse and pistachio delight.
The company also has found success with meal kits for retailers.
“What we ship are the components and what the retailer may or may not do for a taco kit. For example, they’ll add their own lettuce or add their own tomatoes and we’ve got the tortillas, we’ve got the chicken, we’ve got the cheese,” Roe said. “We provide all those elements. So to the consumer, it’s a fresh product.”
The meal kits also allow some flexibility. They are assembled fresh, but the retailer has 25 to 30 days to use them. And they can alter them in any way. “They can add their own produce or whatever they want,” Roe said.
There are many varieties of these meals, ranging from a plant-based hot dog kit to butter chicken flatbreads and carnitas tacos.
Roe pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as a catalyst for the meal kit trend.
“The grocery industry responded and said, ‘OK, let’s try to keep these consumers in store. How do we do that? We need to make sure that what we’re delivering to them is as good – if not better – than restaurants.’”
While the shift to foodservice within grocery isn’t new, many stores are finding the addition to their customer service to be beneficial, as well as challenging.
“[That’s] because of the way that consumers think of what foods are – going into a grocery store and treating it like a restaurant…they’re serving food versus selling. So they need to learn a little bit, too. Ours is packaged foods done really well and that helps with making that transition,” Roe said.
For more information, visit resers.com.