Helping Customers Eat At Home More Can Help Supermarkets

April 08, 2010

The recession has certainly taken a bite out food sales over the past 18 months according to The Food Institute

The recession has certainly taken a bite out food sales over the past 18 months according to The Food Institute, but supermarket operators have an opportunity to build sales by helping consumers eat to home more as they eat away from home less. And indeed that may already be having a positive impact on the supermarket industry. According to a recent Food Institute Report, sales at supermarkets increased over 2% in the first two month of this year, while sales at restaurants declined almost 1%.

Furthermore the shift toward eating-at-home, or Eating In, is seen continuing even after the U.S. economy improves, as nearly two-thirds of food industry professionals verified in a recent survey by The Food Institute. Hundreds of these professionals responded, including food retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and brokers.

The combination of food inflation and the recession has had well-documented consequences.  Some retailers see this as an opportunity to fundamentally change their shopper value propositions. If successful, these changes will alter supplier relationships as well as the landscape for competitive food retailers, in potentially seismic magnitude and with long-lasting dimensions. A new webinar from The Food Institute on Apr. 15th will delve into this topic which is detailed extensively in a new study called “Eating In”, sponsored by the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council - North America.

For years food retailers have tried to encourage customers to eat more meals at home, but only a few have "cracked the code." One reason is that up until now, food retailers did not have access to solid information such as this study provides on how customers were thinking about and approaching the planning, preparation, consumption, and even clean-up for meals.

For example, the study points out that supermarket operators rarely focus on the breakfast occasion in their efforts to increase sales even though it accounts for about 8% of their overall store sales and that share comes without most supermarkets looking to sell coffee and a breakfast sandwich.  And the fact that over three quarters of breakfasts are eaten at home despite an increase in restaurants offering breakfast means indicates there is a significant upside for supermarkets in this space. Breakfast alone presents an opportunity for a $500,000 per week supermarket to increase sales by over $1.800 a week.

Some of the ways suggested to increase sales in the breakfast market segment include:

  • Promote healthy options with the help of manufacturer tie-ins,.
  • Build seasonal promotions such as “healthy breakfasts for winter mornings.”
  • Promote carry-home opportunities of offerings such as frozen breakfast sandwiches, bakery snack items and containers of fresh fruits.
  • And of course, calling out the price advantages in terms of savings each day, each week, or each year.

This study brings together a powerful base of information from The NPD Group, sourced both from its ongoing work, as well as a custom survey done for the Council and this webinar featuring Joe Derochowski, Executive Director The NPD Group, Food and Beverage Services & Bill Bishop Chairman Willard Bishop and former Director of the Council will explore its findings in depth as well as give answer questions from attendees.

This webinar and the study will give retailers a solid platform to build a fact-based strategy. It offers literally dozens of fresh insights and actions retailers can take as they focus on making it easier and more beneficial for their customers to eat more meals at home. 
Overall, retailers could see their food sales increase by 3.2% by focusing on the Eating In market. This could translate into about $11,000 in additional sales for asupermarket doing $500,000 a week, and $2.2 million in additional sales for retailers doing $100 million annually.

Speakers will offer remarks focused on turning the new insights into action and providing a framework for retailers to use to develop their own strategies. There will also be opportunity for the audience to pose questions to the presenters. 
A copy of the study is available for download when you sign up for the webinar at