Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021 - 52

Produce
Salad bars
BY ANDY NELSON
COVID HIT RETAIL SALAD BARS HARD, with many if not most closing,
and retailers scrambling to find pre-packaged and other alternatives. As
2021 enters its second half, however, the prospects for these perimeter
staples are looking bright again.
After the first few weeks of the pandemic, when most salad bars sat
idle, retailers got very creative in reusing the space, said Anne-Marie
Roerink, president of San Antonio-based 210 Analytics.
Some stuck with salad but offered it in pre-packaged formats instead.
Others put full meal solutions in their salad bars or repurposed them
for packaged sides, meats, desserts or other items. A few took out salad
bars altogether.
Depending on the guidance from local health authorities, some
retailers opened the bars as early as last summer, whereas others are
only reopening them now, Roerink said.
" Market feedback is that initially sales were slow, but in part because
of the changed traffic patterns, " she said. " Salad bars do well in areas
with high footfall. With many fewer people going out for lunch or
working away from home, it's that lunch time and dinner time traffic
that hurt salad bar sales. "
At the end of spring and beginning of summer, she added, the
industry started to see many signs of market normalization. Instore
trips continue to climb, people are spending more time in stores, they're
more open to browsing for new products and meal ideas and they're
much more willing to re-engage with self-serve in general, including
salad bars.
" What we're seeing across self-serve areas, whether candy and snacks
or salad, is that people who liked bulk or self-serve before, are ready to
engage now, " Roerink said. " That's resulting in very rapid growth in sales
as the pre-packaged sales are now being augmented with the salad bar
sales and the numbers are actually starting to exceed 2019 totals for
many retailers. "
During COVID, pre-packaged stepped up in a big way, not just for
salad bar options, but cold and hot food bars in general, Roerink said.
" Over the past few years, there had been a big focus on the reduction
of packaging on the fresh food side, but the pandemic put a spotlight
on the functional side of packaging and pre-packaged items were no
longer a negative, " she said.
There are a few secrets to success that come out of the numbers,
according to 210 Analytics' research. One is variety. One of the things
people like about salad bars is variety and being able to pick a little of
everything, Roerink said.
" We're seeing pre-packaged do well for all retailers, but ones that are
offering variety in portion sizes, types or daily rotations are performing
above average. "
Food safety is the foundation of everything else that happens in food
retailing, Roerink said. But traditionally, safety and sanitation were things
that happened in the background, without consumers realizing it.
That has changed, with retailers being much more open and up front
about their food safety and sanitation practices.
" Some even call it 'safety and sanitation theater,' " Roerink said. " It
includes frequent replacement of serving spoons, in some cases
employee-served salad bars, individual packets with dressing instead of
bottles, gloves, masks, etc. "
Pre-packaged salads
became an option for
many retailers during
the pandemic, and
they will remain a
force going forward.
52 - AUGUST 2021
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Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021

Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021 - Intro
Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021 - 1
Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021 - 2
Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021 - 3
Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021 - 4
Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021 - 5
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