Retail foodservice is seeing big growth, and retailers would be wise to consider boosting their investments in it.

That’s the conclusion of a new report, 2019 Power of Foodservice at Retail, from the Food Marketing Institute.

The $13 billion category is  growing annually at 8.2%, according to the report, and should be considered a “primary strategy for food retailers to differentiate and appeal to convenience-seeking consumers.” 

The report also finds that 63% of consumers continue to incorporate time-saving solutions in the form of semi- and fully-prepared items for dinner, but opportunities exist for grocers to garner greater visibility as the primary dinner solution.

Survey participants offered feedback for their stores to focus on faster service; more cuisine variety; healthier dishes as well as healthier alternatives to current options; competitive prices; more information; freshness; knowledgeable and available staff; and various operational improvements such as cleanliness and in-stock performance. 

FMI’s vice president, fresh foods, Rick Stein, says consumers continue to look for convenient ways to get all – or part – of their meals away from home, and supermarkets play a pivotal role in this decision making.

“The study notes that grocers with a positive reputation in retail foodservice can serve as strong motivation for 64% of shoppers who say they will actually go out of their way to find these stores. Competitive differentiation strategies abound for our grocery members who place an emphasis on variety and reduce obstacles through fast and convenient shopping experiences. These experiences may also be enabled by technology, as we’re witness to similar motivations in the restaurant industry.”