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HMR goes gourmet at GIC

Reality television has grown exponentially since Survivor hit our screens back in 2000, but these days the most popular reality shows are food-focused. Masterchef has become a number one show across the board, not just in the reality category.

Well this year at Grocery Innovations, attendees could get a little Food Network reality fun while picking up some great ideas for improving their HMR programs. During both trade show days Recipe to Riches host, Tony Chapman, moderated the Supermarket Chef Showdown, with chefs from Pusateri’s, Longo’s, Galleria and Summerhill markets. Chefs were given a star ingredient and had to create an HMR item in 15 minutes that was scored on taste, presentation, use of the star ingredient and most importantly, the likelihood this item could become an HMR star dish. Chefs were challenged to use Sriracha sauce on the first day, and cauliflower on the second.

While the chefs frantically worked their magic, the judges — independent retailers known for their exceptional HMR programs — were interviewed about their successes and failures in HMR and their insights into what consumers are seeking and how retailers can provide this.

As Tony mentioned several times, 42% of Canadians’ eating opportunities are now fulfilled outside of the home. Or in other words, 28% of our food budget is spent “eating out” and more than 60% of adults don’t know what they are having for dinner by 4p.m. Why give all of these opportunities up to the restauranteurs and fast food giants? Supermarkets should be a destination for healthy, affordable, convenient foods that Canadians can feel good about feeding themselves and their families.

So how does a supermarket that has long been focused on grocery aisles laden with packaged, processed food, achieve these three key criteria in their HMR program?

  1. 1. Hire the right leaders. Whether employing chefs and/or dietitians, retailers need to have innovative recipes and products. It can’t just be rotisserie chicken and lasagna anymore! To compete with restaurants, HMR items need to be elevated to the gourmet level Canadians are used to from restaurants.
  1. 2. Make health a priority! Customers are not going to purchase an item on a daily or weekly basis if they don’t feel it meets their health concerns. Include special diets that are more mainstream now — plant-based, gluten-free, paleo or heart healthy. Although it’s not required by the CFIA for products made in store, customers want to see ingredient lists and nutrition facts panels on these items (even restaurants are starting to provide this on their menus).
  1. 3. Keep the focus on fresh. Canadians know they need to eat more fruits and vegetables but processing them takes more time than our busy lives allow. Do the work for them with fresh-cut fruit bowls, salad kits, ready-to-roast root veggies and of course, fresh-pressed juices.

Congratulations to GIC for breaking trade show tradition and incorporating some fun, fresh and foodie-focused inspiration for retailers around the country!

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