Some are serviced by wholesale distributors, while most are partially or fully self-distributing. Independents are the true entrepreneurs of the grocery industry, which was confirmed again and again at the National Grocers Association’s 2018 NGA Show held in Las Vegas on Feb. 11-14.
Foodservice is a powerful opportunity for independent grocers, according to Kellie Janssen, president, Henry’s Foods, Alexandria, Minnesota. Henry’s Foods is a foodservice-at-retail distributor that services more than 2,000 stores in the upper Midwest. One of the company’s branded concepts is the Teco’s Tacos program, which offers a variety of traditional fully cooked and prepared Southwest-style foods that retailers can customize into everything from breakfast bowls to a take-home family-pack of burritos. The company’s DeliMax program provides retailers with the components to create signature pizza by the slice or take-and-bake pizzas, calzones salads, subs and more.
Flame-broiled to a partial cook, sliced off the cone and individually quick frozen, the slices can be fully cooked in store on a flattop grill, in an oven or a microwave. The slices, which come in chicken and a beef/lamb blend, are made without artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or cereal binders. Operators can offer flame-grilled flavor without lighting any flames.
Independents can make meaningful gains in foodservice without having to launch in-store restaurants, agreed Mike Eardley, president and CEO, International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA), Madison, Wis. He offered an example of portable foodservice equipment that can change out offerings by daypart, including a concept called Pop-Up Wok, which was developed by IDDBA as a concept for its members.
“In today’s omni-channel retail environment, independent grocers maintain a unique and strong connection with their shoppers,” said Jeanne Danubio, executive vice president of retail lead markets, Nielsen, New York.
Citing recently released findings from the third annual National Grocery Shoppers Survey, conducted by Nielsen on behalf of NGA, Danubio said that two-thirds (64 percent) of independent shoppers are very/extremely satisfied with their local supermarket. In fact, over 80 percent of shoppers prefer their local store to an online alternative. Much of this has to do with service, quality fresh foods and meal solutions.
“There’s no doubt that the supermarket industry is rapidly changing, either because of the growth of e-commerce or the explosion of new formats, along with shifting consumer trends. However, independent grocers are nimble enough to quickly overcome obstacles and with strong ties to their communities, they know what consumers want and need,” said Peter Larkin, president and CEO of NGA.
The study showed that loyal independent grocery shoppers spend more than 40 percent more in grocery than the average shopper. This makes it critical for independent grocers to maintain the quality and personal connections that keep these valuable consumers coming back to the independent store. Innovative meat and poultry meal solutions assist.