People Eat In Supermarkets Now, But Please Stop Calling Them ‘Grocerants’

Image courtesy of Shihmei Barger 舒詩玫

Supermarket delis have expanded in size and broadened their offerings, and there’s apparently a term for this in the food industry. It’s “grocerant.” You know, grocery store + restaurant, where you can combine picking up dinner and doing your shopping.

That’s a terrible word, and we apologize for telling you about it, but the thing is that grocerants grocery stores that sell meals are making a lot of money and attracting more customers to buy groceries. USA Today reports that market researchers NPD Group calculated that supermarkets took in $10 billion from customers who were there to eat.

Wegmans, the Northeastern chain that was an innovator in this field, has stores with entire food courts where shoppers can pick up freshly made burgers, subs, salads, or a Chinese buffet. Midwestern chain Hy-Vee serves restaurant-quality entrées and even has table service in more than 100 stores.

The downside is that as more people get their cooked meals at supermarkets, that means they’re going to bring home some foodborne pathogens. Concerns over food safety in items prepared in stores may have led Whole Foods, for example, to have its ready-to-eat items prepared by outside vendors instead of in its own regional kitchens that had sanitation problems.

From 2013 to 2015, as this trend has grown, known illnesses caused by ready-to-eat meals from grocery stores increased 500%. More than six times as many people were hospitalized due to illnesses they picked up while dining at a grocery store: There were 14 people in 2013, and 120 in 2015.

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