IN response to consumer feedback and with the rewards of faster-moving goods, local supermarket chains which are positioned in high-population centres are adding more and more conveniently ready-to-eat and easy-to-prepare foods to their shelves.
Even green bananas already peeled are now available for busy professionals who want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time working or playing.
Tinned meats such as corned beef are moving off the shelves at a faster rate, the Jamaica Observer was told.
Kim Lee, chief marketing officer for Derrimon Trading which operates retail outlets in Jamaica and New York, told the Business Observer, "Currently we supply roasted breadfruit and bammy to the Diaspora market and corned beef for both local and overseas."
Even more bullish about the growth of this segment is Cathrine Kennedy, general manager of Hi-Lo Food Stores which listed over 30 stock-keeping units in the easy-to-prepare foods category, several of which have seen double-digit growth in consumer take-up in the last 12 months. Banana bread is the top selling item.
Kennedy stated that the focus is on stores in high-population centres, noting, "We have invested in outfitting our Liguanea location with a bakery and deli facility to drive the growth we are seeing in baked goods and pre-prepared meal solutions including soups, salads, wraps, and sandwiches. We also have food counters at two other Hi-Lo locations — Portmore and Fairview — where we sell breakfast and lunch items."
She shared with the Business Observer, "We have recorded double-digit growth year over year in our pre-prepared and baked goods portfolio."
Kennedy said that Hi-Lo has plans to add food counters at other Hi-Lo locations in 2023.
She noted, "We also have plans to expand our pre-prepared food offerings into ready-to-eat/ready-to-heat meal solutions."
Kim Lee of Derrimon Trading said, "We continue to watch the international trends for pre-packaged foods as well as measure the demands through our outlets."
Lee stated, "In our retail outlets — Sampars and Select — we continue to train more staff and invest in better packaging in order to make available more convenient options for our customers. We are watching to see how our market responds to these products within our retail stores as well as generally."
Lee says the focus is in response to consumer demand as margins are not really that much more than other stock-keeping units.
She outlined, "The margins are similar, taking into consideration the increased cost of packaging, refrigeration and short shelf life. Consumer traffic toward these products will help us to measure customer interest. As we watch the trends, we will continue to innovate. "
The company operates supermarkets in Manor Park, St Andrew; May Pen, Clarendon and two in New York.
Chairman of Derrimon Trading, Derrick Cotterrel told the Business Observer, "The delis were never closed during the pandemic — in fact, we did better business. The trend for more prepared foods is growing and as such we are trying our best to fulfill these needs by increasing our offerings and the fresh produce areas in our supermarkets."