In the ever-evolving landscape of food distribution, we find ourselves navigating a world far more fluid than its historical counterparts. Traditionally, consumers relied heavily on supermarkets for their meat, dry goods, and fresh produce needs. Dining out at local restaurants was reserved for special occasions or when convenience beckoned. However, the lines distinguishing these culinary avenues have gradually blurred. It’s worth noting that the largest food retailer in the United States today is none other than Walmart, and the trend of Americans embracing online food purchases is on the rise.
Rewind to 1985, and you’d discover that roughly 60% of all food sales transpired within the grocery aisles, with a modest 40% taking place in restaurants and other food service establishments. Fast forward to the present day, and the tables have turned. Expenditures at food service outlets now account for over half of the staggering $1.6 trillion in total food sales, edging out traditional grocery retail by a slim margin of approximately 1%.
Initially, the term “grocerants” referred to a novel concept: grocery stores offering in-store dining experiences and fresh, prepared foods that were either ready to eat or easy to heat. This innovative approach, often dubbed “food service at grocery stores,” aimed to recapture customers’ interest by delving into the realm of the restaurant business.
In recent years, however, the term “Grocerant” has metamorphosed into a far-reaching trend. It now encompasses the sale of retail food items designed for immediate consumption or effortless heating. What was once a strategic gambit for major grocers has transcended the confines of traditional grocery stores. The challenge lies in the fact that convenience stores, mass merchandisers, airports, online platforms, drug stores, and virtually any entity capable of crafting meal solutions tailored to time-starved consumers can readily embrace the grocerant movement.
Definition: A hybrid term derived from “grocery” and “restaurant,” referring to a retail establishment or section within a store, typically a supermarket, that offers a diverse range of ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat food options for immediate consumption by customers. Grocerants often provide in-store dining facilities and fresh, prepared foods, blurring the lines between traditional grocery retail and foodservice, catering to consumers seeking convenient meal solutions. The term encompasses a trend where various businesses, including convenience stores, mass merchandisers, airports, online platforms, and others, may also offer meal solutions tailored to time-constrained consumers, thus expanding the grocerant concept beyond conventional grocery stores.
For younger consumers, convenience and affordability take center stage when seeking meal solutions. While the grocerant concept undoubtedly provides an answer to these demands, it finds itself amidst a fierce contest. Emerging players in the form of grocery delivery services, online ordering platforms, mobile applications, and pioneering store formats like Amazon Go all compete for a slice of the action.
Just as the boundaries separating different food channels have blurred over the past few decades, we anticipate the continued dissolution of distinctions between retail food service and traditional restaurants. This transformation, in all likelihood, will be catalyzed by ever-evolving technologies that promise to reshape the industry landscape in unforeseeable ways.
And, you’ll be shocked to hear this but… NorthStar is on the cutting edge of merging solutions to assist with creating and scaling the grocerants of the future.