2011 Portability Study: More operators than ever offer grab-and-go

Twenty-two percent of foodservice revenue comes from grab-and-go items.

According to FoodService Director's 2011 Portability Study, more operators are offering portable meal items than in previous years. In addition, an average of 22% of all foodservice revenue comes from these grab-and-go items.

2011 Grab-and-go Study: What operators sell

  • A total of 79% of respondents said they offer portable menu items, compared with 73% last year. All B&I operators offer grab-and-go items, with college/university and hospitals close behind, with 95% and 92%, respectively, offering portable foods. Sixty-nine percent of school operators said they offer grab and go, while only 48% of respondents in long-term care/senior living provide portable menu items.
  • Among those operators who offer to-go items, an average of 22% of all foodservice revenue comes from these items. C&U operators said that one-quarter of their revenue comes from portable foods, followed by hospitals (23%), long-term care/senior living (22%), schools (19%) and B&I (18%).
  • In the coming year, 51% of respondents say they expect revenue to increase and 44% say it will remain the same. For those operators expecting sales to grow, the average predicted rate of growth was 12%. Most respondents stated at least two reasons for the expected growth: Customers have less time to spend in the dining area (67%) and more customers are asking for these products (58%). For 36% of operators, an increase in customers will help build revenue, and 18% said that higher profits on prepackaged items will help build sales. For 16%, a decline in available seating will cause grab-and-go sales to rise. For those few operators (6%) who said they expect a decrease in grab-and-go sales, 36% said their customer base is shrinking, while 27% cited lower demand and/or a change in the way the operation is preparing and serving food.
  • Operators are trying several methods to boost sales, according to our survey. The most popular tactic is testing new kinds of packaging that makes it easier for customers to transport portable foods. For 40% of operators, setting up dedicated stations that call attention to grab-and-go service is being tried, while 36% are considering new or improved merchandising and 25% are marketing grab and go through various promotions.
  • When it comes to packaging, a variety of options are popular. The most common types of packaging are simple plastic containers or wraps, used by 54% of operators, and clear-lidded salad bowls, employed by 52%. For 46%, plastic clamshells are popular, followed by foam containers (45%), paper containers (35%), entrée containers with clear lids that are not clamshells (34%)  and biodegradable containers (30%). Only 6% said they use aluminum containers, and 2% said they offer packages with temperature indicators.
  • The majority of operators in all segments except B&I said that portable meal services saves labor in a way that boosts profitability. Only 33% of B&I operators stated that grab and go is a labor-saving deal.

2011 Grab-and-go Survey: Packaging

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Hutchinson Middle School in Hutchinson, Minn., invited students to help serve lunch in an effort to encourage their peers to try new, healthy recipes, Hutchinson Leader reports.

The students, who are part of the school’s Students in Action Club, created posters to advertise the new meal and helped serve it to students during lunch.

The school’s kitchen manager, Janet Schmidt, said that around 37 more students than normal got in line to try the meal. The school plans to have students from the club help serve lunch once every month.

Read the full story via Hutchinson...

Industry News & Opinion

In an effort to trim costs, the country’s largest senior living company laid off 100 staff members, including regional dining services directors, reports Senior Housing News .

Not all employees who were laid off will technically leave the company, Senior Housing News notes, as some will be reassigned to alternative positions. Brookdale recently posted third-quarter earnings that fell short of analysts’ expectations and that the company’s CEO called disappointing.

At the end of last year, the Brentwood, Tenn.-based company employed 53,000 workers on a full-time basis, and...

Industry News & Opinion

After receiving mixed feedback from parents, Randolph County School District in Asheboro, N.C., is inviting parents to tour the district’s kitchens and cafeterias to see how the food for school meals is made, Fox 8 reports.

School officials say that the tours, part of the district’s first Food Day for Parents, will give parents an inside look at the upkeep of the facilities, as well as enable them to sample some food and see how the district is upholding USDA guidelines.

Officials also hope that the tours will provide them with more guidance on what parents and students are...

Industry News & Opinion

After fielding complaints from parents and students, Sodexo is launching an initiative to improve dining services at Emerson College in Boston, the Berkeley Beacon reports.

The initiative will kick off this month with an event dubbed Fresh Start, marking the start of several moves aimed at improving service—including the hiring of a new executive chef, the addition of a second sous chef, and retraining current staff on food preparation and presentation.

Members of the Emerson community will also be able to share feedback through the introduction of monthly forums, as well...

FSD Resources