How Kroger is innovating across the food-to-go spectrum

Date : 20 September 2017

Following its announcement that it is entering the restaurant business, we look at how Kroger is developing its food-to-go credentials.

Full scale restaurant a new venture

Its first standalone restaurant concept, Kitchen 1883, will open in October and if successful will be expanded. Located alongside a new Kroger Marketplace store, the restaurant will offer a fresh take on American comfort food and create an atmosphere focused on community. The menu will comprise of freshly made meals from scratch and hand crafted cocktails will also be available. Earlier this year, Whole Foods Market opened its first standalone restaurant, while HEB has recently launched a new drive-thru restaurant concept, highlighting the innovation which is happening in this space.

Urban formats appealing to shoppers seeking convenience

Whilst this is Kroger's first move into the restaurant business, it has steadily been increasing meal options across its banners. Mariano's, its urban format in Chicago, offers a wide selection of hot and cold food-to-go options, as well as prepared meals for later. Known for its high quality and extensive choice, Mariano's offers time pressed shoppers convenient options for a range of meals. Many stores have additional features including sushi and oyster bars, grilling stations and wine bars in-store.

Applying lessons from concept development

Last year, the retailer launched a new supermarket concept, Main & Vine. Along with a strong emphasis on natural foods, including fresh and organic ranges, prepared foods are central to the proposition. The 'Gig Harbor Kitchen' offers a range of cuisines, including artisanal pizzas and customised salad bowls. Learnings from this format are being applied to the wider Kroger estate.

Innovating in convenience with personalisation

At its Turkey Hill convenience stores, Kroger has launched an innovative build your own burger offer, giving customers a wide choice of toppings and trimmings to make their burgers to order. Touch screens allow customers to order their burger exactly how they like it. This program is being rolled out across the Turkey Hill estate.

Focus on food in new convenience format FreshEatsMKT

In May, Kroger launched a new convenience store concept called FreshEatsMKT in Ohio. It has a large focus on food-to-go items and made to order food from its Fresh Eats Kitchen. Products can be ordered in-store or online. Indoors and outdoor seating encourages shoppers to spend more time at the store.

Expanding into meal kits

Meal kits are another way in which the retailer is developing its food offer, launching its own meal kit solution, Prep + Pared, earlier this year. The meal kit market continues to grow rapidly, with shoppers looking for quick, fresh and healthy meals they can assemble themselves. Kroger may look to extend this to its ecommerce offer.

Developing its offer to better meet new shopper needs

These initiatives demonstrate how Kroger is becoming a leader in this area. It views food-to-go and prepared foods as important traffic drivers, particularly with younger shoppers. The retailer is also aiming to establish itself as a destination for easy and convenient meal solutions, aligning with changing shopper lifestyles.

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