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Interesting piece in USA Today noting that there is a new trend in take-out meals…that travelers returning from trips are bringing food home from the airport. “With the eradication of in-flight meals, many passengers are carrying their own food aboard airplanes and many airport concessions are now offering prepackaged meals and snacks for just this purpose,” the paper reports. “But many travelers are also taking those same prepackaged foods home at the conclusion of their trip.”

In fact, “While most new airport food concessions are being constructed ‘airside,’ past security lines and close to gates, HMS Host is also installing kiosks and eateries in airport baggage claim areas specifically catering to travelers leaving the airport. In the United Airlines baggage claim area at O'Hare, HMS Host operates a Starbucks and Ciao Gourmet Market, an upscale American version of Ciao Ristorante, a Milan-based eatery with more than 155 locations primarily in Southern Europe. Ciao offers prepackaged, high-end healthy items including a tempting array of salads, sandwiches, fruits and vegetables, and gluten-free snacks as well as a tempting display of dessert treats … HMS Host also operates a 24-hour Tim Horton's restaurant in the arrivals area at the Edmonton Airport and recently opened Yan Can, a Chinese cuisine eatery, adjacent to the baggage claim in Terminal 1 at San Diego International Airport.”

KC's View:
The columnist writing the story makes one observation that should be chilling to many supermarkets – that he chooses such options because after a long trip, he is “loathe to wend his way through the supermarket aisles” to look for food.

I had a chance to moderate and speak at the Information Resources Convenience Retailing Forum yesterday, which was part of IRI’s annual Summit in Orlando, Florida. And one of the things you hear from the convenience channel is that they have their eyes firmly on this target – the food-to-go sector, which many of the people in the c-store business seem to feel is their ticket to ride in a declining economy.

Which just means that the supermarket industry will continue to get more and more competition.