Across the retail landscape, the rise of convenience is shifting channel shares. Value and convenience channels continue to win shoppers and capture strong retail channel growth. While the grocery channel has a significant advantage over other channels in terms of shopping frequency, its share has declined. In 2012, the average household made 56 trips to the grocery channel—16 fewer trips than in 2001, according to Nielsen Perishables Group. Value channels, including supercenters, dollar stores and warehouses are picking up the slack, each seeing shopper trips increase compared to 2001. Many grocery retailers are striving to recapture fill-in trips by catering to time-strapped consumers with a variety of fresh options.

Many retailers are overhauling their formats to offer foodservice-like atmospheres and services for a variety of eating occasions. For example, the number of unique deli breakfast food items sold increased by 13.6% in 2013, according to Nielsen Perishables Group. And in 2013, each of the 15 prepared deli categories, which serve foods for a various meals, increased both dollar and volume sales, some by double digits.

“Assembling” but not fully preparing meals is a popular trend among a growing number of shoppers who want to be involved with food preparation but also have much of the work done for them. Not surprisingly, these shoppers gravitate toward meals with premade or value-added elements, and this need can be leveraged across the entire store. Prepared deli entree offerings (including prepared beef, ham, vegetable and Mexican entrees) also continue to expand, with the number of unique items sold up 11% compared to the prior year.

Deli prepared options continue to expand as consumers opt to piece together their meals—the number of unique items sold in store for deli prepared salads and sides each increased by more than 10% in 2013, according to Nielsen Perishables Group. In the produce department, meal components requiring minimal preparation, including salad kits and value-added vegetable side dishes, are also gaining popularity. In 2013, vegetable side dishes increased dollar sales 16 percent and salad kits jumped 26% from the previous year. These convenient produce options fit the “semi-prepared” bill for consumers that want to feel involved with food prep.

Similar offerings are also gaining traction in the bakery department. Take-and-bake or assemble-at-home bakery products are direct attempts to draw the bakery away from being a “celebration” or “occasion” department into everyday eating.

Shoppers are also supplementing meals with snacks, or replacing them altogether. Here, grocery offers a competitive edge over foodservice, with a variety of convenient and healthy snacking options. In 2013, the number of unique deli prepared snack items increased 9 percent, according to Nielsen Perishables Group. In the produce department, products like snacking vegetables and fresh-cut fruit increased their offerings by nearly 20% each. Cross-store merchandising with items from fresh and center-store aisles to frame the consumer mindset for “snack meals” could be an effective way to capture sales from this growing consumer trend in 2014.