business news in context, analysis with attitude

Go figure.  Kroger is the biggest seller of sushi in the US.

The Wall Street Journal reported the other day that "the nation’s biggest grocery-store operator sells more than 40 million pieces of sushi in a typical year, in the process helping turn slices of raw fish, real and imitation, and rice into an American consumer staple."

According to the story, "Sushi is a central component in Kroger’s strategy to expand beyond our grocery-shopping lists, and grab some of the dollars people budget for restaurants and eating out. The company’s executives say it’s working: Kroger’s data shows that the rolls bring new customers to its stores and encourage existing shoppers to visit more often. The grocery operator says it noticed in 2020 when it was reviewing data from consumer-research firm Circana Group that it was the nation’s biggest sushi retailer. It’s been grabbing an ever-larger share of the U.S. sushi market in the three years since."

And here are two key findings from the data:

"Rather than cannibalizing other items in the prepared-food case, sushi has lifted sales of other prepared meals."


"Supermarkets are, however, eating into overall restaurant sales of sushi, Circana said."

Some context:

"Americans purchased 43.7 million servings of sushi at grocery stores over the past year, mostly for quick lunches and dinners eaten soon after purchase. In addition, they bought 238.6 million servings from restaurants, including dining in and takeout. 

"Supermarkets have improved the quality and range of their rolls, while raising prices for them more slowly than for other grocery items and prepared food. Whole Foods Market said it plans to expand its offerings of sushi and other prepared foods such as carrot-curry kimchi rolls and rolls made with crab salad and yuzu soy dressing."

KC's View:

I love two elements of this story.

First, that supermarkets are finding that when they improve quality, it improves sales.  Anytime retailers can avoid a race to appeal to the lowest common denominator, the better.

Second, it is eroding restaurant sales in the same category.  Not that I have anything about restaurants, but the priority here on MNB is almost always about ways to steal market share from competitors.