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LAURA STRANGE, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONS AND EXTERNAL AFFAIRS FOR THE NATIONAL GROCERS ASSOCIATION; PATTI CHESNEY, VICE PRESIDENT OR MERCHANDISING FOR HUBERT CO.; AND GREG FERRARA, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL GROCERS ASSOCIATION.


Equipment Opportunities


Equipment dealers who can pivot quickly – particularly those dealers offering design, consulting, and service options – could be well-positioned to take advantage of supermarket trends toward more foodservice options as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Dealers like Hubert and Wasserstrom are already immersed in this market and have seen success. Because of their expertise, equipment dealers and distributors can source and sell appealing packaging for prepared foods and ready-to-eat food display equipment that’s designed for safety and efficiency. Further, they can help grocery stores design around social- distancing guidelines as they reconfigure customer areas to create direct paths for diners or shoppers to pick up meals.


Rise of Grocerants


Barely more than six months ago, food- analytics firm Datassential, Chicago, Ill., projected a real growth of foodservice sales in supermarkets at about 2.8 percent on top of inflation in 2020. Although that projection was less than the annual 8 percent growth the grocery foodservice market had been seeing, according to the Food Marketing Institute, it still compared favorably to the anticipated growth of 0.8 percent for the overall foodservice industry.


Supermarket foodservice is no longer limited to hot food in the deli, salad and soup from a salad bar, or grab-and- go sandwiches. Segment operators are expanding their offerings and their stores to include hot food bars and seating, and even in-store restaurants.


“A lot of recent [grocery] trends focused on customer experience in stores,” says Laura Strange, senior vice president, communications and external affairs for the National Grocers Association (NGA), “such as elevating in-store food offerings and dining, including wine bars, tap rooms, cooking classes, and high levels of customer service as well as an emphasis on fresh.”


Summer 2020 23


GROCERY OPERATORS HAVE EXPANDED THEIR OFFERINGS AND MOVED FURTHER INTO THE FOODSERVICE SPACE IN RECENT YEARS, LEADING TO MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR DEALERS AND DISTRIBUTORS TO SELL EQUIPMENT AND OFFER SOLUTIONS TO THESE CUSTOMERS.


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