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‘Grocerants’ stack up to restaurant quality, say many Canadians: Mintel


London, U.K. – Canadian customers are in the habit of buying prepared and made-to-order foods from the grocery store and many feel it’s just as good as restaurant food, says new research from Mintel.

Eighty-five per cent of Canadians have purchased prepared/made-to-order foods from a retailer that sells groceries from June through August, with younger Canadians aged 18-34 most likely to do so, said a recent report from research firm Mintel.

For many, home-meal-replacement (HMR) products are a viable alternative to dining in at or takeout from restaurants as one-third of Canadian HMR consumers agree that prepared/made-to-order foods from retailers are as good as those from restaurants. Furthermore, HMR programs meet the needs of cash-strapped consumers with over one quarter of HMR consumers saying that HMR is a cheaper option compared to restaurants.

Half of HMR consumers say they purchase prepared and made-to-order foods to eat in.

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Grocery stores are the most popular HMR eat-in destination, followed by mass merchants and club stores.

It is becoming more important for grocery stores to provide eat-in experiences that rival those of the food-service industry, the report said. ” ‘Grocerants,’ the marriage of home meal replacement and restaurant, have become a point of differentiation for Canada’s grocers, providing a means to support more frequent traffic and greater margins in an industry where profits are notoriously tight,” said Joel Gregoire, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel.

Consumers are on the hunt for convenient mealtime solutions as two in five HMR consumers say they purchase these foods because they’re already shopping at the store, while one-third say that they use HMR because they are hungry while out. Top reasons given for purchasing prepared and made-to-order foods were no desire to cook and no time to cook.

Eighty-two per cent of prepared and made-to-order dinners are the most common meal purchased by HMR consumers at retail, while 68 per cent eat these items for lunch.

Finally, ordering prepared foods online from the local grocery store may soon become the norm for many Canadians as one quarter of HMR consumers (and one-third of consumers aged 18-34) are interested in online ordering options.

While this trend poses challenges for restaurants, it creates opportunities for meal replacement kits and delivery, Mintel said.