Thursday, January 22, 2009

Okay so how does Fresh and Easy fix their problem?

So last time we were at Fresh and Easy, we were a bit disappointed. How to fix it? I've thought about it a lot. I did mention that they should go to the Fancy Foods Show. That would be a great start. It was held this past weekend in San Francisco and here are a few of the items Fresh and Easy should give a second look to, if they have even glanced once.

One of the best products I've seen is Linda's Latkes. The are frozen latkes that do not taste frozen. It is a great product and deserves to be on every table in America.

Steel Cut Oats - any brand. I don't understand why they aren't there. Aren't the English famous for these? Maybe I've just missed them.

Gluten free items. This is a strong and growing category. There are people all over that are suffering from gluten allergies. Get on the band wagon!

Other items strong at the show are chocolates, olive oils, teas, and snack foods that are healthy and inexpensive. Also the drink lines available are amazing. Why not do a deal with Dry Soda. Be the first real grocery store to carry the full line. It's delicious.

Spices, there are some great spice companies that serve single serving spice needs. Instead of the mass produced spices currently on hand, that is available anywhere, why not add to your line-up? Also any product from The French Farm would be welcome!

A deeper line of artisan breads. The store started out strong, then faltered. Ordering for your needs is essential. If your bakery person doesn't understand how to order, teach them. It's not that we don't want the bread, it's getting used to buying it from you.

Your condiment section is good, but it could be better. Mayonnaise is lacking. Your brand is soupy. Americans do not like soupy mayo. Condiments have a great profit potential and a long shelf life, don't worry about the lack of sales on some items, they'll catch up when people know they can count on you to be their supplier.

A great line of baking items. Such as Rumford products. Yes, there is Clabber Girl, but bakers are no setting a higher standard and want quality, not cheap knock offs with aluminum, that aren't good for you. Think about the other aspects of baking that are essential to good bakers - a few good paper products such as recycled cupcake liners and parchment paper are great to offer.

Getting rid of the fluff product. Consumers are actually reading labels now days. I saw a frozen dinner made by you that was a chicken dish with black beans and something else - I forget what it was - but the first ingredient on the label was black beans. Was this chicken with black beans or vice versa?

I do like the rice offerings you have. Don't decrease it!

It's important to remember to serve your neighborhoods. Why not a few public interest gatherings to help shoppers know how to benefit from your offerings? Announce a store walk through at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, where you'll highlight the best at Fresh and Easy. And ways to help them stretch their grocery budget by shopping with you.

Hey guys, walk through a Mollie Stone's, a Whole Foods, a Sprouts for goodness sake. Look at their product lines. It doesn't all have to be about your brand. In fact "branding" is an over-used phrase that unless backed by quality and demand means nothing.

Well, that's probably more than should be said in one sitting. But it's about passion for the food and the shopping experience I'm trying to see.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Everything's better with bacon - even dessert!

Sorry about the blur, it's an early blogging photo and I didn't have any bacon hand to shoot a pic of currently. Bacon for dessert is the topic of late. One of the guys I work with at Godiva recently ran into Voges au Chocolat's Chocolate Bacon bars and was surprised at how good it was.

Well, yes, everything is better with bacon. In the video the guy seems to be more impressed with the word "brunoise" (a fine dice). And don't be fooled with the "fevillitine" ingredient. It's corn flakes folks. (As a side note: in France they have Feuillitine, it is crisped crepes broken into pieces. You can substitute crisped cereals like corn flakes or rice crispies, but it is not the same.)
Time magazine has a great article about making dessert with bacon. Go ahead give it a try. You may just like what you eat! The recipe is found here.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009


The LA Times had an excellent article on improving your lunch. Most if us, rush at lunchtime, as we only have 30 minutes to wolf something down and get back to work. The suggestions in the article are great and I see a whole new lunch coming my way!

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Fresh and Easy - Year 2

We are now into the second year of Fresh and Easy being part of the landscape around here. We have two locations in our town and one seems to be gaining favor the other is always deserted. But this isn't about the traffic.

I was surprised when I saw Fresh and Easy open their first store here. I wrote a post about it, took some flack, and moved on. I've shopped there for fresh vegetables, even thought they're wrapped in plastic, bought butter and eggs there and the occasional basketful of groceries. I've enjoyed their coupons and bought their water. Still, I have to ask is it going to last.

Last nights visit would say no. They've removed the long wall of produce. Reduced to about half its size. That's not good. Instead of learn that customers really want to choose their produce in loose bins they chose to limit what is sold. Bad idea. I am a customer. I have chosen that less than stellar package of 4 tomatoes, with one obviously bad and the others good. I had no choice - they were all like that. I've noticed the supply dwindling. The fullest shelf in the store was the marked down rack. If you're catering to the marked down crowd you've already lost. Time to step it up.

Gone is the large flower rack. In the beginning I thought this was an interesting addition. I'd seen gorgeous flowers at Trader Joe's, and Central Market. I just didn't think Hemet was ready for it. And they weren't. It has been replaced with the type of rack you find in the everyday Stater Bros here. Everyone competes with Staters. They're like the Russia of grocers here in this town. No one seems to win against them, and they only sell what they want to sell. Nothing that appeals to anything but the masses. No real specialty food items at all. Bit this isn't about them. It's about Fresh and Easy. They seem to be bowing to the pressure of the retail climate here.

Instead of offering more in a down market, they're climbing aboard the less train. I don't get it. Their message was - we're new, we're environmentally concerned, we're European, we know you'll like us. Yet my message to them is you're inconsistent. I can't seem to get the same things I got last time. The fresh vegetable selection is limited. The grab and go used to be quite diverse. No longer, now it's a few varieties of fried chicken wings and a couple of soups and then a bunch of pasta. Disappointing to think I was hoping for something along the lines of a Trader Joe's.

The Tesco mentality has set in. Gone is the creative juice they came with. Yes, it's a down market, but that's when creativity thrives. Go for a walk design team! Run down to TJ's and see how they're doing it. I was in the Temecula store last week and they were packed!!! Don't go to the majors and compete, end run them with good quality unknowns. Go to the Fancy Foods Show and talk to some new suppliers. Buy some good groceries that aren't Kellogs or F&E and begin to be the little store that could!

We want you to win. We want to purchase our groceries from you. We want something new to choose from, but we also want the tried and true. Come on guys - you've got the tenure, now lose some of the stodgy-ness and thrive! And if you need a good consultant to help you do it, I'm available.

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