By Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh Foods, Food Marketing Institute

Fresh Prepared/DeliIn a few weeks another year will have flown by. We’ll soon start getting asked to reflect on 2016, and what we want to achieve in 2017. At some point in life, we’ve all heard the saying, “goals are the roadmaps to success.” The same concept can be applied to our recently released Power of Fresh/Deli report that indicates fresh food areas as the culinary destinations of stores.

Last year, the FMI Fresh Foods Leadership Council recognized an opportunity to document the fresh prepared category through the eyes of the shopper. Similar to FMI’s reports on meat and produce, the Power of Fresh Prepared /Deli analyzes data and shopper experience for retailers to pinpoint opportunity for growth in fresh food selections. We’ve learned the vital need to leverage fresh food selections to meet shopper demands for convenience through the increasing statistic of consumers purchasing meals prepared away from home. One thing is certain; you cannot navigate the road ahead without a thoughtful roadmap. Here are some top findings from the report to help you build your fresh prepared roadmap.

Yield to speedy shoppers

When it comes to buying fresh prepared foods at their grocery store, shoppers are focused on speed and convenience. Stores successfully accommodating busy shoppers are quietly capturing the attention of these consumers, and eventually one trip has the opportunity to yield two. In addition to speed, shoppers are craving experiential factors in store – an atmosphere or ambiance that can quickly connect them to their meals.

Target aspirational cookers and millennials with semi-homemade meals

Consumers find meal inspirations through their favorite cooking show, Facebook, or online recipe. The study shows, however, consumers are mixing fresh prepared meals with ingredients at home to create their own signature hybrid meal. In addition to experimenting with semi-homemade creations, consumers are craving more meal and recipe solutions with adventurous flavor twists. For example, that ordinary rotisserie chicken could be paired with cilantro, mixed greens and honey to create Rick’s Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Chicken Tacos (not trademarked). If you give your shoppers the inspiration and the direction, who knows how many more meals can be improvised using fresh prepared and center store items!

Break for pedestrians

Urban areas lend opportunities to compete for foot traffic and the 9-to-5 crowd. It’s time to focus on building a reputation in fresh prepared lunch offerings that emphasize speed, price, and a variety of healthy options to a metropolitan community. In urban areas, shoppers are twice as likely to visit grocery stores for deli/fresh-prepared quick lunch fixes. Building notoriety around lunchtime solutions also helps grocers earn the shopper’s loyalty and encourage repeat visits.

Honk for word-of-mouth and taste reputation

Brand reputation is critical when it comes to building a name for your store. Today more than half of shoppers, learn about a grocery store’s prepared foods program by seeing or trying it for themselves when in-store. Gaining the attention and loyalty of Millennials will be imperative to the future of fresh foods. Therefore, in order to build a reputation among consumers outside of the store, it is clear that digital media is key to success among younger shoppers and circulars among older generations. Millennials are most likely to integrate meal solutions into the meal planning, it’s important to find ways to connect with Millennial shoppers to make your store top of mind.

For more information and to download a copy of the report, visit

The Power of Fresh Prepared/Deli was commissioned by the FMI Fresh Foods Leadership Council, supported by FMI, Nielsen, Hussmann Corporation and The Shelby Report, and prepared by 210 Analytics, LLC.