- Supervalu has launched its Quick & Easy Meals across its retail banners, and has made the line available to the more than 3,000 independent grocers its wholesale business serves, according to a company release.
- The Quick & Easy Meals brand encompasses three different models: fully prepared grab-and-go options, heat-and-eat meals, and meal kits made with pre-chopped and measured ingredients. The line features “hundreds of food options,” according to Supervalu.
- “Originally, a grocery store only needed to have the components to make the meal,” Anne Dament, Supervalu’s senior vice president of retail, merchandising, and marketing, said in the release. “Now, we need to have the full solution available to time-starved customers at our stores or delivered to their homes.”
Grocers have been steadily ramping up their selection of prepared foods in recent years as consumers seek out convenient meal options. At the same time, retailers have evolved their selections beyond fare like house salads and spaghetti and meatballs to include international cuisine, special-diet options and more.
Supervalu’s Quick & Easy Meals line, which includes selections like a Thai coconut chicken meal kit, spicy chicken enchiladas, bourbon peppercorn steak tips and buffalo chicken sliders, is a great example of this trend. These entrees are intended to compete with meal kit companies like Blue Apron and Albertsons-owned Plated as well as restaurants.
What’s unique about Quick & Easy meals is its array of options under a single brand. Grocers across the industry are broadening their meal options to accommodate varying occasions and prep time, but the branding typically isn’t as unified as Supervalu’s. The retailer/wholesaler clearly wants customers to think of the line as their go-to for fresh meals, and for purchases to become habit-forming.
The meals, which rolled out across Supervalu’s Cub Foods and other retail locations earlier this fall, could give a boost to the company’s ailing retail stores. Cub, for one, is under tremendous pressure in the Upper Midwest market from newcomer Hy-Vee and new-look Aldi.
Last month, investor Blackwells Capital sent a letter to Supervalu executives urging them to sell a third of the company’s retail stores and add new members to its board and management team. It’s not hard to see why: The grocery wholesaler and retailer’s stock price has fallen precipitously over the last two-and-a-half years, from a high of $83.80 in April 2015 to just under $16 currently.
Supervalu is undergoing a transformation from a retail- to a wholesale-focused company. Sales and acquisitions in its wholesale division have been strong lately, while Supervalu seems to view its retail stores primarily as a test lab for its distribution business. That’s certainly innovative thinking, but with more than 200 stores still under company ownership, its retail business is also a large liability that even snazzy new prepared meals may not be able to revive.