retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MSNBC has what is becoming a familiar story, reporting that Americans, faced with a tough economy and declining income, increasingly are turning to supermarkets for prepared foods. The story notes that a number of companies – ranging from Stop & Shop to Kroger to Whole Foods to Supervalu - are upping their presence in the area, stressing not just convenience but also taste and nutrition.
KC's View:
Ah, meal solutions. Once again the concept rears its head and becomes the flavor of the month.

I would agree with the notion that the troubled economy is playing into the successful efforts of supermarkets to generate more interest in their prepared foods selections. But I also would point out that when meal solutions was a hot topic a decade or so ago, many retailers brought unreasonable expectations to its execution – a lot of people thought that it would solve all their problems overnight, and that simply by saying that they offered “restaurant-quality foods” they could steal market share from restaurants.

The fact is that no initiative solves problems overnight. Supermarkets have to commit time and energy and money to the concept, and be both patient and rigorous in demanding high quality product. Companies such as Wegmans and Lunds/Byerly’s and Dorothy Lane Markets did all these things years ago, and continue to be successful in the prepared foods arena to this day. Chains that did not now find that they have to reinvent the concept.

For their sakes, I hope they get it right this time.