Monday, August 16, 2010

Food for Thought

The Retail Muse must be hungry this week, as our post is all about food. From local produce to food deserts, to a menu of Pop Tarts and goat meat, we'll cover it all and provide a few inspirational snacks along the way.
Local is In.
Customers are becoming more and more engaged in where their produce is coming from. Grocers have started to respond by adding a greater selection of produce sourced from local farmers. In Indiana for example, Meijer's grocery chain has increased locally sourced produce to 27% of their inventory. A spokesperson sees this as a way to create a fresh new Farmer's Market experience in the store, while at the same time saving costs and cutting out the food wholesaler. Customers are enthusiastic, as it means fresher, locally grown produce, with a lower price point.
Over on the west coast, in California, The Fresh and Easy grocery store chain has created a new program. It's called "Farm to Store in 24 hours". Fresh and Easy have worked with local growers to get produce on the shelf within 24 hours of it being picked. Although their have been challenges working out all of the mechanics for this, customer response has been positive and the chain is seeing big increases in their produce sales.
What struck "The Muse" most about these stories is how a campus store might be able to capitalize on this buy local obsession. Farmers want to deal with local retailers, customers want to buy local products, and the campus store is positioned about as local as you can get. Some imaginative campus retailer should head down to their local farmer's market this weekend and see what opportunities their might be.
Imagine the Campus Farmers Market each week......
Food Deserts
No, not dessert. Deserts. The inner city of large metropolitan areas that are real food deserts. No place to buy fresh produce, no grocery store available until you hit the suburbs. Walgreen's is piloting a program, adding fresh produce, meat and cheese to inner city stores in the Chicago area.  The idea is to expand selection, offer healthier alternatives, and reduce the emphasis on packaged foods.
Campus retailers? Well another far out there idea for those stores in urban areas, far from the traditional grocery store offerings. If you operate in an area like this, then it is worth considering as a new revenue stream and expanding your marketplace.
Pop (up) Tarts Store
Joining other candy purveyors like Hershey and M&M's, Pop Tarts have created a pop up store in Times Square, NYC. It's a weird and wonderful creation, including such bizarre things as Pop Tarts sushi, a laser light show that stimulates the look of frosting, and a create your own pop tarts vending machine. The store is more an experience centre, which boasts pop tart video games and pop tart cafe.
We have no idea how this weird pop tart culture center would impact campus retailers, but love the idea of a frosting like light show distracting students in BTC lineups!
And finally, Goats. We just had to mention a recent article  that Harrods, the UK luxury department store, is adding goat meat to it's offerings. Presumably goat meat is the next big thing for uber trendy restaurants and foodies, and Harrod's is determined to pick up on the trend.
That's it for this week! YOU are off to check out the farmer's market and to think about food deserts. We here at "The Muse" plan to work on our exclusive goat meat pop tart creation. Ummm goat and frosting!
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