As dayparts blur and snacking soars, Rutter’s appeals to customers with quality and variety.
Rutter’s Farm Stores’ 66 locations offer a complete grab-and-go experience with 83 hot grab-and-go offerings. Items span many flavors and sizes of burgers, fried & grilled chicken sandwiches, subs and wraps, tornados, pork egg rolls and stromboli.
The York, Pa.-based retailer’s grab-n-go pizza program offers both breakfast and lunch/dinner varieties. And that’s just hot offerings. Rutter’s also boasts more than 120 grab-and-go options in its cold case. CSD caught up with Ryan Krebs, Rutter’s director of food service, to see what’s heating up for grab-and-go in 2017.
CSD: What grab-and-go trends do you foresee in 2017?
Ryan Krebs (RK): Snacking items are the big trend, specifically those that are hot, quality, smaller portions and offer variety. Variety, snacking and choice are in demand. Our customers seek the same quality as the made-to-order (MTO) offerings, simply without the wait. Diversity of offering has not been a high expectation throughout this segment per se, but ‘convenience’ led the charge. However, that is changing. Higher demand will continue for additional flavor profiles, such as Latin and Asian flavors. Highly-sought items, such as chicken wings, mozzarella sticks and French fries will be requested. The grab-n-go customer, similar to the MTO customer, will want ‘more and more.’ We’ll no longer be able to offer 2-3 sandwiches in the hot hold and satisfy the demand. As dayparts cease to exist, diversity of offering around the clock—including on the hot hold—will be the expectation.
CSD: On Jan. 17, Rutter’s debuted a hot grab-and-go pouch bringing kiosk items to the grab-and-go section at 53 of its 66 locations. Tell us about the new offering.
RK: We added 13 top-selling kiosk offerings to the grab-n-go program: mozzarella sticks, BBQ beef short ribs, chicken wings, French fries, hashbrowns, chicken tenders, fried sweet bologna, macaroni & cheese bites, onion rings, jalapeño & cheese bites, boneless chicken chunks, sweet corn bites and fried pickles. Customers can choose a variety of grab-n-go sauces as well—marinara, buffalo sauce, bleu cheese and ranch dressing—at no additional cost. We’ll continue to add a variety of offerings as the program develops.
CSD: Rutter’s partnered with Robbie Flexibles, headquartered in Lenexa, Kan., to offer state-of-the-art hot pouch packaging for the new grab-and-go items. What is unique about the hot pouch?
RK: The uniqueness of this pouch allows for the integrity of the products to remain, while providing extended shelf life and holding optimal temperature. It’s been created with a thin, durable film that provides constant heat around the entire product. Vented holes allow breathability, so steam releases and keeps the product crisp rather than soggy. It’s microwavable, re-sealable and has a handle for easy transport. A clear window easily displays each item and all bags are Rutter’s-branded.
CSD: A recent Q1 Consulting survey found customers are most concerned with variety and quality when it comes to grab-and-go foods. How is Rutter’s checking these boxes?
RK: Rutter’s now offers 83 pre-made options in the hot grab-n-go case. The variety is endless and offers customer choice. Since many customers prefer the convenience of grab-n-go, the number of items available allows them to always find new and different options. The quality piece resonates via the product itself as well as the Rutter’s process in providing it. A majority of our grab-n-go items are made in-house, including baking our own sub rolls, building our breakfast sandwiches and creating our own stromboli from scratch. These freshly-made items are the same quality as those on our MTO kiosk.