Demand for supermarket chefs continues to heat up

By Lauren Neuman, APR

Last year, Americans spent more money eating out than on groceries. But this year, there’s reason to believe that more consumers will make the trek to the grocery store on a mission for a home-cooked meal. As we’ve discussed previously, nearly one third of all grocery shopping will be done online by 2030, so grocers need to step up their game to keep customers coming in. They can do this in a handful of ways: investing in training for top-notch customer service, ensuring produce is fresh and locally sourced when possible, creating a seamless experience online and in-store, and even serving beer and wine while customers shop.

However, one of the most impactful steps a grocer can take to elevate the in-store experience is to hire a dedicated chef. Here are a few ways that chefs can help grocers:

Basics Market Executive Chef Fernando Divina (photo courtesy of @BasicsMarket on Twitter)

Classes and events: Well-known chains like Publix and newer concepts like Portland’s Basics Market alike offer in-store classes on everything from meal preparation to knife skills. Other stores offer resources such as in-store dietitians, oyster tasting, or sushi making classes.

Meal kits and carryout meals: As shoppers increasingly put a premium on both nutrition and convenience, quick-service meals and in-store meal kits have exploded in popularity. When shoppers purchase meals from the quick-service section of the grocery store, they expect the meal to be fresher and healthier than other quick-service options, without having to start from scratch. Additionally, prepared foods have higher profit margins for retailers. Chefs can cater to these needs and drive sales by designing nutritionally sound meals that are delicious and convenient.

In-store demonstrations: Engaging all five senses is becoming increasingly important to the in-store experience, and chef demonstrations are a creative way to do just that. Customers can immerse themselves in foodie culture, ask questions and maybe learn a new skill while crossing grocery shopping off their to-do list.

The rise of the supermarket chef

In-store chefs help keep shoppers coming back to the store, instead of dining out or picking up takeout meals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics first introduced a category for supermarket food preparation and serving in 2013. Last year, 336,460 people worked in supermarkets preparing and serving fresh food. Chefs or head cooks accounted for nearly 10% of those employees.

Changing consumer lifestyles and an increased demand for healthier prepared meals are driving the investment.

There’s no doubt that chefs add a certain cache to the supermarket experience. As consumers continue to have a renewed interest in their food, grocers would do well to partner with chefs to make the most of the in-store shopping experience.

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Gig Harbor, Washington


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