For many Millennials, home ownership may be beyond their means—at least for now.

This means roomy, well-provisioned kitchens next to comfortable dining rooms for family, partners and guests may not be in the foreseeable future.

However, it appears that this is not a concern for most Millennials. Dining out—breakfast, lunch, and dinner—is not only typical, but for many, preferable.

This means, unlike their experience with past generations, grocery store operators are less likely to hear that ever-welcome “cha-ching” sound. 

Nevertheless, some of the largest grocery store chains in the country are aware of this trend and are taking several steps to address it.  What they are doing may prove of value for smaller and even independent supermarket owners.

Among the steps they are taking, according to Nikki Baird, Vice President of Retail Innovation at Aptos, a retail enterprise solutions provider, is “owning every stage of food preparation.”  This, she says, includes the following supermarket in-house options:

  • Continuing with the more traditional grocery store experience, providing all the ingredients necessary to make and cook a meal.
  • Providing “meal kits.” These can vary, but they involve assembling all the necessary ingredients into a boxed kit ready for cooking and serving at home. 
  • Marketing entirely prepared meals, made in the supermarket kitchen and ready to heat and eat.
  • Expanding on traditional grab-and-go meal options, but, as Baird says, “packaged to eat at home.”

While the larger supermarket chains have the resources to experiment with food options to address changing consumer eating patterns, this does not mean smaller supermarket operators are left out in the cold. What many are doing to address these changes is turn to kitchen automation systems.

One of the key features of these systems is that they include menu management software. With online access to a massive database of food items and ingredients, the software allows supermarket operators to calculate the nutritional values for a food item, determine and adjust nutritional information, identify allergens and even determine the cost to prepare the item. This helps operators more effectively price these food product options, helping to eliminate trial-and-error pricing methods.

Additionally, some of these systems are cloud-based. If menus are changed at a central location (i.e. from corporate), that information is delivered to all locations at the same time via the internet. The information is then accessed using a tablet, which wirelessly connects to food label printers.

Speaking of food labels, the importance of these should not be underestimated—according to Baird, Millennials are very focused on transparency.  These shoppers want “far more information about [food] products than retailers have historically provided.”  They will be turning to food labels for this information.

Jill Carte is Director of Product Development/Category Manager – Kitchen Automation, at DayMark Safety Systems, manufacturers of a full-range of food service technologies designed for the food service industry