Grocerants: the future of food consumption
It’s a new word, and you’ll want to add it to your dictionary fairly sharpish. Grocerants – a portmanteau of “grocers” and “restaurants” – are cropping up around the UK, as spending habits begin to change towards restaurants rather than supermarkets.
The trend has been clearly marked in the US, where two research groups have this week put out figures showing the recent increase. Millennials, it seems, would like food to be cooked for them – but don’t want to stop going to the supermarket.
A Strong Compromise
The solution to the issue seems to be heading out to one of these so-called grocerants, where you can purchase groceries as well as picking up prepared food which is ready to eat. While it’s fairly normal to take home prepared food from a restaurant, it is now becoming more common at supermarkets and smaller grocers, particularly those from independent owners.
More than 40% of the US population, according to the report by NPD, now purchases food which is pre-prepared from grocery stores. This is a rise of 30% over the last eight years, and now accounts for $10 billion of consumer spending – not a small amount.
“Millennials’ interest in the benefits and experience supermarket food-service offers will continue to be strong over the next several years,” David Portalatin, NPD’s vice president of industry analysis said in a statement accompanying the research. “This forecast bodes well for food manufacturers and retailers who have their fingers on the pulse of what drives this generational group. Give the Millennials what they want — fresh, healthier fare and a decent price — and they will come.”
What They Are
So just what are these grocerants? You can spot them in a number of different forms: they could be attempting a kind of yuppy chic, as in the example of Eataly, a New York City venue. They could also be a more traditional grocer which has recently started serving prepared food, such as the H-E-B Grocery in San Antonio or the Buehler’s in Wooster, Ohio.
Whole Foods, a grocery chain in the US, has been quick to capitalise on this trend, leading the way for major retailers. They have introduced a new “365 by Whole Foods” range to provide that prepared food in existing stores.
“We were impressed by the overall prepared foods offering, which could represent a point of differentiation versus other specialty concepts such as Trader Joe’s,” writes Rupesh Parikh, analyst at Oppenheimer. “The main components of the prepared foods offering included two cold salad bars and two hot bars that included items such as pizza, soup, chicken wings and samosas. There were also other “prepared food venues” including a case filled with pre-made sushi, sandwiches, salads, etc. and an area where customers can order via iPad select items such as hot dogs, pizza, and rice/veggie bowls.”
The Future of Consumption?
It’s altogether possible that this business model could be the next one to take the UK by storm. If so, the time to get involved is now. Those who currently hold chef jobs could branch out into working for stores instead of in kitchens, creating the food to be sold on the day.
Meanwhile, there is certainly scope for those in executive food jobs to start pushing major retailers in the right direction. If it is done soon, and properly, even smaller retailers could see themselves getting a giant leap ahead of the competition.
Whatever the case may be, this certainly presents a new and interesting set of opportunities for food jobs in the UK, as new venues and possibilities open up.