Merchandising Features / Trend Features

A Fresh Food Fanatic

May 4, 2012
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KEY POINTS

Wegmans' perishables are a powerful shopper magnet.


The Pittsford, N.Y., test store has a plethora of prepared food stations.
Strong customer service adds to the chain’s allure.
 

Wegmans Food Markets Inc.’s renown keeps spreading.

The Rochester, N.Y.-based chain of 79 stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts was recently rated as the best supermarket in the U.S. by 24,000 shoppers who responded to a survey by Consumer Reports magazine. Wegmans was rated highly in perishables, service and cleanliness.

That recognition follows Wegmans’ listing by Fortune magazine as one of the best companies to work for in the U.S.

Eugene Fram, a Los Altos, Calif.-based marketing consultant and professor emeritus at the Rochester Institute of Technology who has closely tracked Wegmans, notes that such acclaim further confirms the company’s merchandising prowess, including its selling of perishables.

Indeed, many analysts say that Wegmans is the standard bearer in the marketing of prepared foods, including ready-to-eat and value-added selections.

“Wegmans’ prepared foods area is one of the first sections shoppers encounter when entering a store and it sets the tone for the rest of the outlet,” Fram states. “It is never messy; always kept clean; and the customer service is strong.”

He adds that Wegmans is “light years ahead” of Whole Foods, another major prepared foods merchandiser.

“Wegmans has a wider variety of offerings and a trust that has been built up over 50 years,” Fram notes. “Its food presentation is strong, as is the quality of products. The employees also are knowledgeable and treat customers well. That is an unbeatable combination.”

Marcia Schurer, president of Culinary Connections, a Chicago-based food industry marketing and consulting firm, agrees.

 

Wegmans
At A Glance
 


Company
Wegmans Food Markets Inc.
Founded
1916
Ownership
Private, family owned
Chief Executive Officer
Danny Wegman
President
Collen Wegman
Headquarters
Rochester, N.Y.
2011 Sales
$6.2 Billion
Stores
79

Locations
New York (47)
Pennsylvania (14)
New Jersey (7)
Virginia (6)
Maryland (4)
Massachusetts (1)

Employees
More than 42,000

“Wegmans has a ‘foodie’ focus on selling fresh foods and realized many years ago that retailing was a lot more than just stocking supermarket shelves,” she states. “It is engaging customers and educating staffers to love and appreciate a variety of great tasting premium foods.”

She notes that the chain’s investment in restaurant-quality prepared foods is a key differentiator.

“Wegmans also has a constant stream of customers which helps them to move their inventory of foods daily and keep the offerings fresh,” Scherer states. “And they make their stores friendly for eating in, and convenient for take out.”

A Wegmans outlet in Pittsford, N.Y., near Rochester, illustrates Wegmans’ status as a prepared foods pacesetter.

The store serves as a company test outlet and features a plethora of food stations, some of which are unique to Pittsford or available in just a handful of locations.

Such offerings include an Italian Classics section of a hot self-service buffet.

Under a sign that states “Savor the Taste of Italy,” the bar features Sausage and Meatballs in Seasoned Tomato Sauce, Chicken Parmesan, Fennel Gratin, Chicken Marsala, Cheese Lasagna, and Escarole & Beans.

Also in the outlet is a Hot Veggies Bar with selections that include Roasted Turnips & Mushrooms with Fried Tofu and Dashi Broth, Eggplant with Garlic Sauce, Artichoke Flan, Roasted Indian Eggplant with Tomatoes & Peas, Roasted Cauliflower & Gruyere, Plantains in Yogurt Curry Sauce, Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Shallots, and Soy Beans & Vegetables with Sweet Miso Sauce.

Smaller buffets include a Dessert Bar containing Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce, Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake, Mint Chocolate Brownie Slice, Coffee Chocolate Brownie Slice, and Key Lime Pie.

The endcaps of the expansive buffets also have mini food stations.

They include a Vegetarian Entrées section with Enchiladas, Eggplant Stacks, Chick ’n French (chicken gardein cutlets battered in eggs, artichokes and lemon butter sauce), and Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.

A Dim Sum Bar has Pork Shumai, Shrimp Shumai, Tricolor Haukau, Pork Dumplings, Royd Shrimp Haukau, and Chicken Shumai.

And a Grain Table features Five-Grain Sweet Rice, Aztec Blend Garlic Brown Rice with Tumeric, and Four-Grain Truffle Mushroom Rice. 

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Recent Articles by Rich Mitchell - Perishables Buyer

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