Prepared Supermarket Meals Raise Food Safety Concerns
With the rise of the grocerant—supermarkets that offer prepared, restaurant-style foods—comes consumer concerns regarding food safety. Although the majority of U.S. consumers feel that foods in supermarkets are safe, the percentage who feels this way has decreased over the last 10 years as grocery stores have increased prepared food offerings, according to The NPD Group, a leading global information company. NPD Group, which has tracked food safety concerns in the U.S. since 2001, indicates that in 2006, 66 percent agreed with the statement that foods sold in supermarkets are safe, and in 2016 (thru August) only 58 percent of adults agree with the statement.
In-store dining and take-out of prepared foods from grocers has grown nearly 30 percent since 2008, and accounted for 2.4 billion foodservice visits and $10 billion of consumer spending in 2015, based on NPD’s ongoing foodservice market research. Over 40 percent of the U.S. population purchases prepared foods from grocery stores. Grocerants have even garnered the attention of the coveted Millennials, who use grocery stores less than other generational groups, but are increasing their use of prepared foods at supermarkets.
Historically, based on NPD Group’s Food Safety Monitor, consumers have had a greater concern about the safety of foods served at restaurants than at supermarkets. However, the percentage of consumers who feel that foods served at restaurants are safe has remained, on average, between 47 and 49 percent since 2006.
“Consumers typically rate grocery prepared foods higher on freshness and quality than quick service restaurants, but more food handling issues and concerns come into play when foods are prepared for you,” says Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst at NPD Group. “They are now extending the concerns they have about the safety of foods served at restaurants to supermarkets. Since groceries are taking on more of the role of a restaurant they are reaping the rewards as well as the risks that go with it.”