More Aussies turning to the deli for lunch

Independent supermarkets have noticed a shift towards customers looking to purchase pre-prepared, ready-to-eat meals from their local deli counter.

Frank Molloy, State Operations Manager NSW at Australian United Retailers, said that more shoppers are turning to their local supermarket for takeaway lunch and dinner options that require little to no preparation.

“We’ve seen a significant shift in recent years with rising numbers of consumers relying on healthy supermarket convenience options to help them manage their busy lives.

“As that demand has increased, savvy supermarket owners who have expanded their fresh offers and diversified the range of prepared foods available in their stores have created impressive opportunities to value add and operate their deli departments at much higher margins.”

Working with over 580 independent supermarkets, food, and convenience stores nationally, including 400 FoodWorks stores, Australian United Retailers said changing consumer habits and reduced demand for processed meats has transformed the deli counter mix in many supermarkets across the country.

“The success of our stores which have adopted a fresh deli offering is one of the best examples of supermarkets pivoting on the traditional model to find a point of difference and capitalise on changing consumer needs,” said Molloy.

FoodWorks East Corrimal, which won the National ‘Food to Go’ Award at the Australian United Retailers Excellence Awards last year, has more than doubled its lunchtime trade since the store transformed its deli offering five years ago.

Richard Rabay, Owner of FoodWorks East Corrimal, said customers were moving away from deli meats so keeping staff behind the traditional staffed service deli was not turning a profit for the business.

“We knew we had to make a change, so we started with a few small experiments and grew our offering from there. Initially, we closed down the traditional deli and trialled a self-serve offering to see how people would respond.

“The offering featured pre-packaged deli meats, yoghurts, salads and other ‘grab and go’ items to retain ranging, but we received some feedback very quickly that told us our customers still expected sliced meat and a deli service.”

The feedback was taken on board, and they reopened the deli with a hot food and takeaway-style range that included food such as pork, chicken and schnitzel lunch packs, potato bakes, vegetable bakes, and chicken nibbles, garlic kiev balls and tenders.

“Locals who are on-the-go love the convenience of popping in for a sandwich or snack, and we always have a long line of tradies who come straight to FoodWorks East Corrimal when their work brings them back to our area.

“The deli brings people in the door, and that increased custom means they’re also spending money elsewhere in the store,” explained Rabay.

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