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    Study: C-stores Taking Back Market Share from Restaurants

    Sales of food retailers' meal solutions will exceed $25 billion this year.

    CHICAGO -- Food retailers with meal solutions programs, including convenience stores, supermarkets, warehouse/club stores, supercenters, and various specialty retailers, are luring back time-pressed restaurant customers to their stores, according to recent research released by Chicago-based foodservice consultancy Technomic.

    Sales of retailers' meal solutions, excluding beverages, will exceed $25 billion in 2007, according to the study, "Retailer Meal Solutions: An Opportunity Assessment."

    Because convenience remains a top priority for consumers, c-stores and other retailers offering new and appealing meal solutions have seen their customer traffic increase at twice the rate of restaurants over the past five years. "This is clearly a competitive threat to many chain restaurant brands," said Ron Paul, president of Technomic.

    Consumers are looking for complete meal solutions, and that is magnifying the growth opportunities for retailers, Paul noted. "Consumers have moved well beyond basic deli items," he said. "They want retailers to deliver all-inclusive meals, including entrees, sides, beverage and dessert. Lighter lunch offerings also hold strong consumer appeal."

    The recent U.S openings of Tesco's Fresh and Easy stores, which place a strong emphasis on prepared meals, is one case in point. Paul also cited Bristol Farms, Central Market, Publix, Ukrop's, Wegmans and Whole Foods as having successful meal solutions programs.

    The full Technomic report is available at www.technomic.com.

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