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Did you know the more meals families enjoy together, the better they eat? Studies show that families who eat three or more meals a week together have a 24 percent increase in healthy food consumption.
This is just one of the many benefits of family meals The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) is highlighting this September to promote National Family Meals Month™, a movement created by FMI four years ago so that food retailers and suppliers could do their part to help consumers come together for more family meals.
“Family meals are at a critical intersection in our nation,” FMI’s Susan Borra says. “The will to return to the table exists, but families need a friendly, familiar voice to show them the way. That voice is food retail, and the way is the National Family Meals movement.”
With more than 90 food retailers representing thousands of local supermarkets across North America participating in Family Meals Month last year alone, it may feel like everyone is jumping on the Family Meals movement, but IGA CEO John Ross says IGA is in a better position than ever before to differentiate around shoppers’ evolving needs for fresh, healthy food to feed their families.
“When you used to ask shoppers what they wanted from their shopping experience, they would say they wanted faster checkout times, cleaner restrooms, and better prices,” Ross says. “All that’s still important, but now on top of that they want a partner who gives them guidance on healthier choices and who can tell them where their food is coming from, and they want help getting out of a recipe rut or solutions to put dinner on the table faster.”
Which is precisely the purpose behind IGA’s recent up-branding initiative to help retailers take credit for the intensely local food they offer and educate shoppers in the process.
“Everything our IGA retailers are doing to promote IGA’s Local Equals Fresh point of difference—from relating stories about local farmers and products to highlighting the local recipes behind their iconic prepared foods—all falls under the umbrella of helping shoppers be smarter about the meals they provide for their families,” Ross says.
Doing your part to bring families back to the dinner table is great for the health and wellbeing of families, but it’s also just smart business—especially when you consider the benefit family meals can bring to your bottom line.
“Studies have shown that just one more family meal per week can have a huge impact on family dynamics, shopper budgets, and even the health of the family. When you add to that the difference that extra meal per family brings to a retailer's bottom line, it’s obvious that retailers need to be thinking about their offerings in terms of complete meal solutions,” says Meagan Nelson, associate director with Nielsen Fresh Team.
Nelson points to the success of meal kits as support for the strategy, citing that 40 million households have tried or are likely to try meal kits.
And yet, Nelson insists that IGA retailers’ independent flexibility puts them at an advantage over other retailers competing with meal kits. “There’s no longer a blanket statement about how consumers are behaving with food. Some people never cook; some always cook,” says Nelson. “There are no golden rules, so it’s important to understand who you have in your store. As independents, IGA retailers have a clear opportunity to test what types of meal solutions and promotions will really deliver results for their customers, whether you’re providing shoppers with prepared meal deals from deli offerings, or merchandising items together so shoppers can cook a full meal at home," she says.
So what’s the key to creating successful meal solutions? According to Nelson, it all comes down to finding the right balance among these key shopper needs.
Even the most dedicated home cooks can run out of creative ideas when cooking night after night. In fact, one of the things meal kit customers love most about the kits is that they shake them out of their dinnertime ruts. Three quarters of meal kit customers say the kits enable them to try new foods and recipes and 57 percent say they learn new cooking techniques with the kits.
Variety Quick Tip: Make your store a destination for innovative meal solutions.
Offer a stir-fry recipe that can be customized multiple ways with Indian, Thai, Chinese, or Korean sauces; beef, tofu, or shrimp; rice or noodles; all with a pre-cut vegetable medley as the common element. Host in-person cooking demonstrations to help shoppers learn new techniques.
Putting an affordable meal on the table is no easy task for many Americans, which is why so many people turn to inexpensive fast food for nightly dinners—and incidentally, one of the biggest reasons people haven’t tried meal kits (56 percent believe meal kit services are not affordable for everyone, and 38 percent of potential meal kit buyers say buying a meal kit is too expensive compared to buying the same products in grocery stores).
Value Quick Tip: Highlight the value of your meal solutions.
Include signage with your meal solutions display that shows the total price per meal (include a range if there are options for add-ons or premium ingredients). Want to get more creative? Show a comparison for what a similar meal would cost in a restaurant.
Did you know that time-saving is a primary reason people eat away from home? Same goes for meal kits. 80 percent say meal kits save time on meal planning, 78 percent on meal prep and cooking, and 70 percent on grocery shopping.
Convenience Quick Tip: Make it fast and easy for your shoppers to get dinner on the table quickly.
Place daily “grab and go” specials from your deli at the front of the store for easy access, like IGA retailer Nakul Patel is doing with his small space meal solutions.
Or include pre-chopped produce and ready-to-cook proteins in "cook-at-home" meal solution displays like IGA retailer Brooks Marsh is doing to capture an extra $2,000 a week in sales.
Looking for more meal solution ideas? Check out our 3-part Grocerant series and download the corresponding whitepaper.
So how is IGA helping you connect the dots this September to increase your meal solution sales while supporting Family Meals? With an assortment of resources designed to complement what you’re already doing in stores.
The easiest way to drive awareness for the importance of family meals at home is to share Family Meal’s themed blogs, meal planning suggestions, and recipes on your social media pages from IGA.com (it only takes one click!) beginning September 1.