Prepared foods continue to present a major opportunity for retailers, including convenience stores. Meanwhile, consumers are increasingly visiting retailers specifically to buy prepared foods, according to “2017 Retailer Meal Solutions Consumer Trend Report,” released by Technomic, Chicago.

“[Retailer meal solutions] will continue to steal share from the fast food segment, however, the addition of seating areas, bars and expanded made-to-order offerings means retailers will also increasingly compete with sit-down restaurants,” says Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights. “Price, décor and ambiance will be key battlegrounds moving forward, as RMS operators increase efforts to become hangout destinations and increasingly offer higher-quality fare such as scratch-made pizzas and smoothie bars.”

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • Roughly 80% of all consumers report purchasing prepared meals at least once a month.
  • Snacking has overtaken lunch and dinner as the leading weekly RMS occasion.
  • 55% of consumers eat prepared foods within an hour of purchase.

Compiling findings from more than 1,500 consumers as well as Technomic’s MenuMonitor and Digital Resource Library, this trend report serves as a guide for foodservice operators and suppliers to help them understand consumer usage and attitudes toward RMS and to identify key areas of opportunity.