Supervalu Continues Climb

In mid-2006, Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Supervalu Inc. acquired the retail properties owned by Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Inc., but that was neither the beginning of Supervalu’s climb to success, nor has it been the end. Since, Supervalu has continued to improve its offerings to customers, all wrapped around the mantra of high-quality customer service.
Supervalu was named Meat & Deli Retailer magazine’s 2006 Retailer of the Year nearly a year ago. At that time, Supervalu had positioned itself well in the crowded retail marketplace by fine-tuning its deli format based on the variety found within its customer segments. Supervalu, at the time, was in the process of evolving its meat and deli departments, using this finely tuned data, to keep pace with consumers’ changing tastes and add some differentiation in the marketplace, as reported in Meat & Deli Retailer by Michael P. Morales, Supervalu vice president, perishables, national merchandising, Retail Food Companies.
More recently, in August of 2007, Supervalu continued to evolve its deli departments with the consumer in mind, announcing that its banner delicatessens would make the switch to trans fat-free canola oil for its fryers, a move to make items better for the consumer. Mike Buck, Supervalu vice president, service deli merchandising, explained the move in a company release.
“As a grocery retailer, we know that when it comes to food, offering better-for-you options are important, and at Supervalu, we’re all for surprising and delighting our customers with food choices that improve and enhance their lives,” Buck said. “We’re committed to consistently reviewing our product offering to provide the best, freshest quality products possible for our customers.”
Supervalu banner delis prepare a variety of fried products, which vary from store to store and may include items such as fried chicken. The switch, which was expected to take a few weeks to complete, had an added benefit for consumer health as well, Buck added.
“As a leading grocery retailer, Supervalu consistently looks for ways to improve our customers’ lives by offering them better-for-you food options,” he said. “Not only does this move to a new, zero-trans fat cooking oil for our deli prepared foods help us better meet our customers’ needs, the additional reduction of saturated fat allows our customers to enjoy the same great-tasting deli selections in a more healthful way.”
This change occurred on a much more macro level, but Supervalu’s ability to dig deep into the data it has on its customer base allows the company to stay ahead of the curve and compete in a marketplace focused on variety and options.
To keep up with customer demand, Supervalu banners consistently update their prepared-foods offerings, which includes adding varieties of hot foods and meats or offering new flavors and varieties of those meats. Supervalu banner delis are often able to meet the needs of the localized consumer through the prepared-foods dishes that the deli offers — often developed by in-house chefs and other employees who know the local consumers and their demands.
Supervalu also has updated many of its banner deli designs, adding salad bars, hot-food bars, wings bars, sushi stations and olive bars, as well as expanded cases for rotisserie meats and wood-burning brick ovens.
As retail consumers grow more and more demanding in terms of the variety they seek, retailers need to be able to stay in tune with them on a local level, and Supervalu’s deli departments appear ready to take the challenge head-on.