As the lines between restaurant and grocery store, store-bought and homemade continue to blur, operators are finding that success is all about adapting to the way people eat today. Grab-and-go items are an easy, off-the-shelf solution for meeting customer demand for low-contact food items while boosting your operation’s sales.
The grab-and-go snacking trend was well underway pre-pandemic, as noted in Datassential’s December 2019 Snacking Keynote Report. When asked how likely they were to order certain foods as a snack from a restaurant or other eating establishment, 60% of respondents said they would order packaged salty snacks, 51% cited frozen treats, and 44% chose desserts. These items were already emerging as powerful drivers of sales in foodservice.
Since then, customers have expressed an even greater affinity for prepackaged items. Some operations, from high-end independents to chains like Panera and Subway, are becoming quasi-grocery stores, selling everything from rotisserie chickens to nonperishable items. Others are simply recognizing that grab-and-go offers a valuable opportunity to adapt to changing habits. Independent operator Anne Klingler, owner of Marquette, Michigan-based Outlanders, is launching a late-night delivery menu with a focus on sweets and craveable snacks, while a K–12 foodservice director in Massachusetts told Datassential: “With the uncertainty of what type of service we will be able to do in the fall, individually wrapped items can be used in all scenarios.”
This comes at a time when customers are seeking comfort food in record numbers. DoorDash data from the first half of 2020 indicates that customers are now three times as likely to order comfort food over healthier items. In another recent survey, 75% of Americans reported eating more of these foods than ever before. Ice cream and chocolate/candy topped the list of specific comfort foods eaten, with six out of 10 respondents saying they’ve turned to these treats to offer a moment of joy during stressful times.
With 72% of consumers saying they will probably only get restaurant food for takeout or delivery due to ongoing, COVID-related safety concerns, now is the time to offer them a variety of appealing grab-and-go options. Prepackaged desserts and snacks like ice cream and candy bars can drive impulse purchases, fill gaps in your menu, and act as powerful drivers of incremental sales. And they do it without adding labor—a crucial factor for operators dealing with pared-down workforces.
Nielsen research has shown that 86% of impulse snackers have a specific brand in mind when they make a purchase. Put the brands they love front and center with grab-and-go solutions from Mars Foodservices, available in manageable pack sizes for all kinds of operations, as well as free display racks that can increase in-store sales by 15%.