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Food Retailers Respond to Consumer Demand for Convenience and Quality

Increasing consumer demand for fresh, high-quality food options is permeating food retail delivery strategies and increasing competition within the market segments of supermarket, fast food and convenience stores. Case in point: the convenience store segment is expanding foodservice operations in an attempt to provide quality fresh foods that rival, and at times exceed, their fast food competitors.

Recent studies are indicative of this trend in convenience stores:

  • More than half of all U.S. consumers buy food at convenience stores.
  • Two-fifths of U.S. consumers say they would consider convenience stores for prepared meals if food quality and taste were improved.

An increasingly discriminating public has given rise to a new breed of smaller grocery chains that offer higher food quality standards and responsibly sourced products. Based on more of a “farmer’s market” model, these popular outlets appeal to consumers seeking something quick, healthy and fresh. Traditional, big box supermarkets are challenged with adapting to this increasing demand.

And while foodservice retailers are being held to higher quality standards, they’re still tasked with improving energy efficiencies and driving overall operating costs down. Equipment and component manufacturers have recently introduced integrated control systems that help retailers address these challenges in several ways:

  • Optimize product temperatures to maximize shelf life and product safety
  • Create an inviting in-store atmosphere, and minimize the amount of electricity consumed in the operation
  • Give operators remote access to their stores, notifying them of conditions that may lead to more severe problems if not addressed

In addition, facility managers must consider all equipment selections within the context of the regulatory changes on the horizon. First, the Department of Energy is mandating significant reductions in energy consumption for new reach-ins, walk-ins and ice makers by 2017. Second, the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to issue its final rule concerning the delisting of refrigerants used in many commercial refrigeration applications. These motions have far-reaching impacts to the equipment supply chain.

This blog is a summary of Mark Dunson’s column in the latest edition of Emerson Climate Technologies’ E360 Outlook. Read the column in its entirely and download the digital edition.

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