Definition and Examples of a Grocerant

Customers choosing food from display at supermarket
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Owing to the everyday demands of work and balancing finances with the obligations of raising a family, people often prefer convenience when it comes to picking up dinner. Those time-starved consumers are looking for high quality, ready to eat foods, and ready to heat meals. They want to purchase meal components that they can bundle into a customized family meal that will please everyone without spending time cooking. That’s the fertile ground where the grocerant niche has flourished.

The term “grocerant,” a portmanteau that merges the words “grocery” and “restaurant,” is actually a perfectly apt description for the growing trend of freshly prepared, ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat foods available to consumers at convenience stores, chain drug stores, grocery outlets, and other non-restaurant retailers.

Blurring of the line between restaurants and grocery stores, grocerant items can usually be found in grocery stores in the deli/lifestyle section, at convenience stores in the prepared and prepackaged, ready-to-eat food item area, and in ​restaurants under the To-go, takeout, take away or delivery section of the menu or on the website.

Examples of Grocerants

Restaurants like Papa Murphy's and coffee outlets like Starbucks each have fresh, ready-to-eat, or heat-and-eat food menus. You may not think of Walgreens as a food destination, yet Walgreens sells fresh soft-serve yogurt, coffee, and sushi at selected stores, so they are technically grocerants. In the Casual Dining sector, Maggiano's Little Italy offers a buy one take a second dish home for free in their Classic Pasta menu section.

Convenience stores like 7-Eleven, Wawa, Sheetz, and QuickChek all sell fresh and prepared sandwiches, salads, beverages. Supermarkets like Whole Foods, Central Market, Safeway, and Kroger all sell fresh prepared chicken, salads, sandwiches, and most offer sushi and beverages. Wegmans Market Café is an early pioneer of the Grocerant concept.

The retail supermarket and convenience store sector have unique grocerant challenges. Presentation of the ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat food is important. When you get a meal at a restaurant, the plate and the food look great. Retailers, on the other hand, are primarily selling "food for later," and unless an item is a sandwich, the looks of ready-to-eat meals and snacks vary in their appeal.

Packaging food to go can be challenging. In the hot food section of the grocery store, for instance, the food does not look appealing, in most cases. So our expectations drop when we get it for take-away. In convenience stores like WAWA, however, the ready-to-eat food looks great in the to-go containers. The reason for this is because WaWa puts the entire package together, which allows them to exert more control over the look and feel of "food for later."

Around the world, there are sections in department stores and kiosks in malls that offer ready-to-eat and heat-and-eat options, entrees like fried chicken, prime rib, steak, casseroles, with sides like salads, mash potatoes, cream spinach, to faster options like pizza, hot dogs. Generally, these items can be picked up or delivered.