Trendwire, July 2, 2008

Trendwire, July 2, 2008

Food & Drink

Trendwire, July 2, 2008




The Food Channel Trendwire
July 2, 2008 • Volume 22, Number 13 •

The Rise of the Grocer-raunt: Lines Are Blurring Between Restaurant and Grocery Food Buying

Once upon a time, you could see a few restaurant-branded food items in the grocery aisle, most notably in the Latino food section, including salsas (such as Chi-chi’s and Don Pablo’s) and meal kits (such as the Taco Bell Home Originals). Others were tied to big-name chefs such as Emeril Lagasse’s Essence of Emeril spices (, Wolfgang Puck’s signature soups and frozen entrees (, and Rick Bayless’s Frontera sauces (

But increasingly, big-name restaurant brands are making their way into the grocery aisles today. Here are a few that are getting attention:

And conversely, grocery chains are competing with restaurants by going beyond the deli case with full-service restaurants:

  • Last summer Safeway opened a freestanding restaurant, Citrine, behind its Redwood City, Calif., location, designed to test and develop the prepared foods section of the grocery store.
  • Publix supermarkets is the primary owner of Crispers ( restaurants in Florida.

Grocery take-out is continuing to grow both in volume and range of foods available. One of the main players is Whole Foods Market ( Whole Foods Market is now listed as one of the top 10 retailers and the largest source for casual-dining take-out, beating out many of the curbside-dining superstars such as Applebee’s and Chili’s, according to The company’s Prepared Foods Department has bulked up over the last several years and now includes quick entrees, pizza, salads, side dishes, soups, rotisserie grilled items, sushi and sandwiches.

Publix opened its first GreenWise Market last fall, designed to compete with health food stores (most notably Whole Foods Market) and restaurants. It boasts more than 100 prepared-meal options in distinct food prep areas, such as the Pacific Wok (with Lemongrass Pork and Sesame Garlic Eggplant) and Mediterranean Oven (serving up oven-baked items such as Chicken Pesto Pizza, and Spinach and Wild Mushroom Lasagna). Other stations include custom salads (choose a Cedar Plank Salmon Salad or a Caprese Artisan Salad, among others) and many sandwich choices (such as Sopressata & Sharp Provolone, a Tabouleh Tofu Wrap or Grilled Vegetable & Goat Cheese). All its food items are trans-fat free and made with all-natural ingredients; some are even vegetarian and/or organic. The Publix main grocery chain is testing curbside deli delivery.

General merchandise stores are hoping to attract and sustain their existing customer base by improving, or in some cases adding, on-premise food offerings. For example, Wal-Mart just signed separate deals with Pollo Camperos, a Latino chicken chain, and Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe, a “healthy fast food” chain, to open restaurants inside its supercenters. Macy’s is adding organic foods to its in-store restaurants. And SuperTarget is working to improve the offerings in its Food Avenue restaurants.

Grocery stores and restaurants are in a heated battle for America’s dining dollar. Both industries are hoping to get that dollar wherever they are, whenever they can. High-quality take-out, whether it’s fresh from the deli, fresh from your favorite restaurant, or straight from the freezer, is sure to be one of the major battlegrounds.



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