Retailers are responding aggressively to diverse and changing customer demands, delivering fresh, healthful and convenient products storewide.

They are offering meal solutions in multiple forms, including:

  • Hot-service counters, 89.2 percent.
  • Self-service refrigerated cases, 83.8 percent.
  • Made-to-order sandwiches, 71.6 percent
  • Soup bars, 67.6 percent.
  • Catering, 62.2 percent.
  • Separate checkouts for prepared foods, 58.1 percent.
  • Salad bars, 56.8 percent.
  • Sushi stations, 52.9 percent.
  • Snack/juice/coffee bars, 50.0 percent.

Prepared foods departments have grown large with the median number of items offered at 62. The menu items range from traditional chicken to made-to-order pasta dishes, paninis and burritos. Chicken remains the most popular item, prepared in a wide variety of forms including barbequed, broasted, fried, rotisserie and tenders. The industry continues to reach out to fast-growing market niches. As many as 83.9 retailers offer ethnic foods and 72.4 percent feature a natural/organic food aisle or section. Nearly half of the retailers surveyed (46.0 percent) are branding their own organic foods, selling private label versions of these products.