Specialty Food Magazine

SUMMER 2015

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Consumers Crave Speed and Ease Today's consumer wants not only the convenience of fresh, prepared meals and healthy packaged foods but also the ability to pop in and out of a store in mere minutes. Changing trends in grocery shopping point to a consumer population with more single-person households that buy fewer items at once, as well as shoppers who stock up once a week and fill in the gaps with quick stops for fresh items. "Fresh, prepared meals and healthy eating are all leading the charge for today's time-starved society and millennial-driven culture," explains Craig Rosenblum, partner at retail consulting firm Willard Bishop. "Convenience has become more than just a convenient place to get something. It is now about, Where can I get something ready to eat, nutritious, and healthy, and at the same time get some basic groceries." Consumers are noticing the changing tides. According to a recent survey from the National Association of Convenience Stores, 61 percent of Americans recognize that convenience stores are offering healthier, more nutritious products and serving sizes. The survey also found consumers are increasingly turning to convenience stores to make those purchases. "People are much more receptive to purchasing healthy options in places outside the grocery store," says Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives for NACS. With outlets ranging from discount retailers to department stores selling granola bars and drinks at the register, the basic idea of convenience shopping has broadened greatly. To serve these convenience-focused customers, a wide range of businesses—from traditional gas-station mini-marts to mass- market retailers—are creating options to woo them. The Independent Format Often referred to as micro-grocers or green grocers, a bevy of inde- pendently owned modern convenience stores are popping up across the country. While shop owners have different takes on what con- temporary convenience looks like, many of these specialty food–ori- ented stores stock freshly prepared meals, healthy options, and local, seasonal foods, in addition to everyday home staples. Harvest Grocery & Supply in Richmond, Virginia, encom- passes 1,400 square feet of retail space and boasts a large produce and organic perishables section, as well as basic groceries. Owner Hunter Hopcroft opened the store with the belief that people would be more willing to buy locally sourced food if it were more conve- nient and presented in a friendly, well-curated environment. "As for shelf-stable groceries, we focus on best-in-category products from all over," Hopcroft explains. "We seek out small, up-and-coming brands and work hard to promote them once in the store." Harvest partners with JM Stock Provisions, a local butcher that operates a whole-animal butcher case out of the store. The store also sells milk from Old Church Creamery in nearby Manquin, as well as wine and beer. Each Peach Market, located in Washington, D.C.'s Mount Pleasant neighborhood, carries a wide range of pantry staples like olive oil, bread, and crackers, in addition to a seasonal cheese selec- tion, charcuterie, and house-made sandwiches. Owners Emily Friedberg and Jeanlouise Conaway conceived of Each Peach out of a desire to open a real neighborhood store where people would have access to fresh, high-quality food. "We wanted a place where people would shop in a more urban or even European way," Friedberg explains, "where they would stop in almost every day to pick up groceries for that day." Keeping a focus on their customers has paid off for the pair. "We have excellent customers," Friedberg says. "Most are from the neighborhood and have been incredibly supportive. We have many regular customers we know by name." As a convenience market that is also focused on a restaurant element, Green Zebra Grocery in Portland, Oregon, has also made a name for itself among local consumers. "We're redefining what convenience means," Peter Koehler, Green Zebra's business devel- opment director previously told Specialty Food Magazine ("Rise of the Grocerant," Spring 2015). "Imagine Whole Foods Market and 7-Eleven had a baby—you'd get a Green Zebra." Green Zebra stocks a selection of products from local suppli- ers, including gourmet salts and chocolates, craft beers, and micro- roasted espresso. An entire wall in the 5,500-square-foot space is devoted to wine, and dietary preferences such as vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free are all carefully considered in the ready-to-eat selec- Today's consumer wants not only the convenience of fresh, prepared meals and healthy packaged foods but also the ability to pop in and out of a store in mere minutes. "One-store or single-location operators tend to do better, because they can focus on the right shopper and become symbiotic with the community." SUMMER 2015 27

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