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The Montreal Gazette reports on how fresh food-to-go is all the rage for stores in that Canadian province – in part because food retailers are having to get more aggressive with them as a way of differentiating themselves from discounters who are making inroads into their traditional territory.

While some companies, such as Loblaws, are doing battle with discounters by expanding their nonfoods offerings, other retailers – including “Provigo, Metro and IGA are renovating or enlarging their stores, and the first thing you meet when you walk in the door is a growing array of fresh take-away meals.”

The Gazette writes, “Metro has already renovated about 30 per cent of its 241 stores in Quebec, and is forging ahead with work on five to 10 more this year. And it isn't just expanding the display space for take-away meals - it's adding kitchens to its stores and making the food on the spot, adjusting the lineup for each store's location. Stores in residential areas might be awash in meals such as shepherd's pie and beef bourguignon. If there are a lot of office workers nearby, they do a lot of salads. If there's a lot of young people about, they pile up the pizzas.”

According to the paper, “About three years ago, take-away meals accounted for about three to four per cent of sales (for Metro). Today, they're double that, and in five years (the company) expects they will be about 50 per cent higher, accounting for as much as 12 per cent of sales.”
KC's View:
Meal solutions, as this trend has popularly been called, always has been a good idea…it’s just that many retailers did a lousy job with it and assumed that the concept was flawed as opposed to the execution.

The real trick to making meal solutions work is to create a food-driven culture in the supermarket.