Drive-thru fast food in supermarkets?

August 04, 2011

Food stores have potential to build trips by heating up and dishing out the restaurant brands they already sell in the frozen aisle and refrigerated cases.

Nearly half of the fast foods children ate in 2006 (the last year of ten years of research newly released by the University of North Carolina) were eaten at home, and this trend adds to the nation’s obesity challenge. Calories from fast food accounted for more of their intake than school food, noted a USA Today account.

As long as children are eating the fast food, and presumably many parents are driving to buy it, The Lempert Report feels supermarkets could benefit by meeting this demand with drive-thru windows.  As stores figure out the operations, they would likely include prepared meals from the deli that kids like.  They could offer some varieties with healthier twists like whole-grain breads, sweet potatoes, low-sugar peanut butters or lower-fat cheeses.   

To satisfy the fast-food cravings of the younger set, and the parents who placate them, however, supermarkets could heat up and serve many of the restaurant brands they already sell in the frozen aisle and refrigerated cases.  Think California Pizza Kitchen, Nathan’s hot dogs and fries, White Castle hamburgers and more.  Between the name recognition of these proven restaurant brands, and the quick convenience pickup at well-located supermarkets, traffic could swing their way.  

By offering these foods for kids, supermarkets might also capture more of the adult prepared-meal business. Why?  They’d become the one-stop for both purposes – the grown-up meals and the ones kids prefer.  One line, decent value and instant gratification add up to a viable idea for supermarkets to develop incremental trips.