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Thread: Supermarket Trends

  1. #1
    Moderator Chris Allingham's Avatar
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    Supermarket Trends

    My wife hates shopping of all kinds, especially clothes shopping and mall shopping. Yes, I know...I'm a very lucky man. But she also doesn't care for grocery shopping. Good news is I come from a long line of expert grocery shoppers. Some of my earliest childhood memories growing up in Riverside, CA are of shopping at Stater Bros. and White Front (like Target today) with my grandparents. I've always liked strolling the aisles, buying what I need, but also looking for new products and trends.

    I've recently noticed two trends at the supermarket, and I'm wondering if you have, too.

    1) The BBQ Meat Department

    There is now basically a BBQ Meat Department in many supermarkets. Consider this photo I took at a Walmart Neighborhood Grocery here in San Jose:



    Once upon a time, all you'd find was those yucky Lloyd's pork ribs and tubs of Lloyd's pulled pork, chicken and beef. Today, in addition to those, you now have name brands like Jack Daniel's and Tony Roma's and Jim Beam. This store has Jack Daniel's ribs, Jack Daniel's chicken breasts and Sadler's sliced brisket (they're the outfit that supplies brisket to Arby's for their controversial 13-hour smoked brisket sandwiches).





    I'm not saying that any of these are delicious or a good substitute for what we make on our Weber smokers and grills. It's just an interesting trend that shows how popular barbecue has become that so many industrial food companies are cranking out products like this for mass distribution in supermarkets.

    2) Frozen Food Displayed On Edge

    I've noticed that Walmart is displaying many frozen food packages on edge, as seen here:





    I wonder why they're doing this? Do they get a little more product on the shelf using this orientation? Boxes don't fall over when stacked like this? Shelves look neater and remaining product stays at the front of shelf as boxes are removed by customers? It just strikes me as a weird trend that doesn't make sense from a marketing perspective. Boxes have always been displayed with the big, sexy product image facing forward, and now you're trying to find a product based on a tiny image on the edge of the box. Imagine if the cereal aisle was arranged this way...

    I don't get it. If you have any insights, I'd be interested to know.

  2. #2
    TVWBB Gold Member JRAiona's Avatar
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    I have noticed that here as well.
    Food is the ultimate passion. It's neccesity and indulgence all in one

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    TVWBB Honor Circle Bob H.'s Avatar
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    More product on the shelf means less time restocking. Time is money they say. Everyone is looking for ways to cut costs. Could be the answer maybe?

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    UK supermarkets have a BBQ meat selection now, too. I've not noticed brisket (it's not the kind of BBQ the UK does, generally) but you can buy heat-and-eat pulled pork and ribs in a few different sauces. Nothing like the selection in Walmart, I imagine, but a definite sign that BBQ's becoming more popular here, too. I don't think you could buy pre-cooked BBQ in the major UK supermarkets until a year ago.

    I'm not really sure that any of it's actually BBQ'd, mind - I'd guess it's cooked like any other pre-cooked meat here but marketed as Q because of the sauce it's in. I'll have a closer look next time I'm in the store, and take a couple of photos.

    On a related note, there are suddenly two or three BBQ restaurants in town, too. They're hipster places rather than Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives but if BBQ's the latest fashion in eateries here then Q's definitely becoming more popular.

    I don't know about on-edge display, though. I've only seen frozen pizza stacked like that. It'll be interesting to see whether that's something that starts to happen here - one of the four major supermarket chains is owned by Walmart, so if this is saving money or increasing profit it'll be tried, at least.
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    Moderator Chris Allingham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyUK View Post
    I'm not really sure that any of it's actually BBQ'd, mind - I'd guess it's cooked like any other pre-cooked meat here but marketed as Q because of the sauce it's in.
    The same with many of them here in the US, too, I'm sure.

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    Regarding the arrangement of frozen foods, some stores in my area do that, but they usually have them stacked that way with one or two standing on end in the front. Lying flat is a more stable way for them to be stored and also prevents the "empty shelf" effect when the first 4 or 5 of something have been bought. It's also easier for the staff to just slide one or two off the stack to the front when they need to "face off" product. So, it's mostly just logistics, I think.

    As for the "BBQ-in-a-box" stuff, I think it's a sign of the time, unfortunately. Many people, be they young, old or in-between, are coming to appreciate BBQ as a culinary form, but don't have the time or inclination to make their own. It's that "instant gratification" syndrome. Instant oatmeal, instant pudding, instant grits (which, of course, no self-respecting southerner would use), etc. "Just minutes in the microwave!" I guess my free time isn't as valuable as theirs since I don't mind waiting 5 or 6 hours for ribs to cook. I know that when they're done, they'll blow the pre-packaged, preservative-laden, sodium-saturated, high-fructose-corn-syrup-caked stuff away and I won't have to read the ingredients to know whether my guests can eat them (I have several friends with odd food allergies).
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    TVWBB 1-Star Olympian Rich Dahl's Avatar
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    We have noticed the BBQ section in a few stores. Never have tried any of it as we try to buy fresh so we can control what's in what we eat.
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    TVWBB Gold Member JRAiona's Avatar
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    I completely agree with Chad's analysis. I think that convenience and instant gratification are today's driving forces behind how and what people eat. I'm with you Chad, I'll take quality over convenience anytime.
    Food is the ultimate passion. It's neccesity and indulgence all in one

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    Quote Originally Posted by JRAiona View Post
    I completely agree with Chad's analysis. I think that convenience and instant gratification are today's driving forces behind how and what people eat. I'm with you Chad, I'll take quality over convenience anytime.
    In the words of Alton Brown:
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  10. #10
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    Dead thread revival alert....

    I used to work in a grocery store (Pavilions), and we usually stack like that for inventory.... If it is laid flatile that, the counters can just count the stack and multiply that you how many stacks...

    Usually they do that for the whole store unless that is a frozen dept count only... Or they are doing that for some reason I do not know of... It is Walmart after all.

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