Pundit’s Mailbag — Observations On
Fresh & Easy’s Competition And Britishness
Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, March 25, 2008
Our coverage of Tesco’s journey to America has often focused on business aspects of the launch of its Fresh & Easy concept. Yet in the end, the success or failure of the concept is likely to depend, as much as anything, on consumer acceptance of its private label offerings, including fresh-cuts and prepared foods.
The minute we saw that 25% of the fresh-cut salad SKUs were being devoted to watercress-based salads — popular in Britain but not so in America — we wondered if British perceptions were being allowed to influence product selection.
One of the most innovative women on the production side of the fresh produce industry sent us a note regarding her first experience with a Fresh & Easy:
This letter is really written from a consumer perspective and points to two things. First, competitive stores respond to the strengths of a new competitor. We mentioned here that Safeway was responding to Fresh & Easy and, doubtless, all nearby stores have it in mind.
Stores near Fresh & Easy are disproportionately being slated for remodels and upgrades, assortment is being adjusted, and price promotions are focused on perceived areas of strength for Fresh & Easy.
Second, it is interesting that it was a dish with curry that our correspondent found so awful. Long ties between India and Britain have led Indian cuisine to be very popular in the UK and in many ways the centerpiece of the prepared foods efforts of food retailers in London.
One wonders if, along with the watercress salads, this is another example of British influence on the product mix.
As far as the odd exit interview — sounds to us as if the corporate exec didn’t actually expect to find many customers in the store!
Many thanks to our correspondent for sending along her insights.