Consumers Want Grocers to Adopt Restaurant-Style Amenities for Food Service

A new report from the Food Industry Association says consumers want convenience and more healthy options from food service at grocery stores.
a deli counter
  • A quarter of consumers surveyed said they were purchasing more food service options at the grocery store than they were a year ago, according to a new FMI survey. 
  • Consumers are interested in greater convenience options, the survey found, like mobile ordering and outdoor pickup.
  • Grocers that offer food service should look toward offering more healthy options, according to the survey. 

Grocers who offer in-store food service should consider prioritizing nutritional foods and expanding convenience options, according to The Food Industry Association’s (FMI) Power of Food Service at Retail 2022 report.

Half of the shoppers surveyed were interested in grocers offering a mobile app that would allow them to order food items for pickup ahead of arriving at the store. Insights from the survey included:

  • 48% said they would be interested in drive-thru lanes, 
  • 44% said they’d be interested in a separate checkout area for food service items, 
  • 42% said they’d be interested in delivery options and 
  • 38% they’d be interested in pickup options outside the store. 

Consumers surveyed also were interested in healthier food options. More than half — 58% — said they were interested in healthy options, like vegetables. Still, 38% of consumers surveyed said they were satisfied with the nutrition offered by current food service offered at stores. FMI said grocers should consider reducing fried food offerings in favor of additional plant-based offerings and should consider advertising healthier options in stores and online. 

Kroger, which plans to merge with rival Albertsons in a $24.6 billion deal, has added to its food service options at several of its stores in Texas and Ohio. The grocer partnered with the California-based Kitchen United to install new ghost kitchens inside the stores that allow shoppers to place orders from at least six restaurants, from SaladWorks to Nathan’s Famous,  via kiosks, Retail Leader previously reported. 

That move comes as more shoppers are purchasing more food service items from grocery stores, according to the FMI report. A quarter of shoppers said they were purchasing more grocery food service items than they were in 2021, the report said. Sales for food service at grocers this year surpassed both dollars and unit sales volume from last year and from 2019, based on NielsenIQ data cited in FMI’s report. 

“Retailers have a compelling story to tell about the many ways food service delivers on value, nutrition and convenience, but the analysis also suggests something’s missing: Shoppers are craving a new menu,” said Rick Stein, FMI’s vice president of fresh foods, in a release. “They want our industry to regularly evaluate cuisines and seek their feedback.”