The fridge in a corner with some prepackaged products like hummus, tabbouleh or potato omelette has become a gastronomic experience. Fast food outlets in supermarkets are permanent, and their best consumers are the elderly who realize they no longer want to cook.
Sofia, 84, answers Business Insider Spain In the fast food court of the Mercadona de la Ronda de Atocha in Madrid.
“I’ve used this service many times because it’s delicious. I love all the dishes because they’re cooked so well and I can take something different with me every day,” she says.
The reason for this Tuesday morning raid is clear.?I use it not to cook. Look, I’m lonely, I’m very old and I don’t want to work at all, Sofia says.
“If I buy food, all I have to wash is a plate, I don’t use the dishwasher, and I don’t stain much because I use paper napkins,” she admits.
Not alone; with a single walk from the center, more and more old people are getting closer with curiosity or with the safety of those who know what to buy to plan their daily menu.
María del Mar, 70, is a novice in attentive catering and confirms that she was approached on sight to choose her first purchase.
?I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll see what happens today. I’ll first look at what it looks like and what it offers, because unless you’re cooking, you can’t take anything with you, she says.
Some are regulars like Mercedes, 78 and José Luis, 66. The two of them come together and go straight to the counter: ?We used this service a few times as we don’t cook anymore and it’s good. We still use it at least twice a month. We usually get Portuguese chicken and tortilla. And sometimes paella?
A people who have time to cook but no desire
Prepared food has been a common area in supermarkets around the world. However, they have traditionally focused on the profile of executives who buy salads or sandwiches to eat in the office canteen or on a park bench on sunny days.
The Madrid business area near the Azca complex is an example. From 2 pm, women in flowy blouses and men in suits sit in Plaza Manuel Gómez-Moreno to sample summer salads and sandwiches in the shade.
The square in front of Torre Picasso is another meeting point in the capital at noon. In it, executives from Google, Deloitte, and other large companies are taking their meals out of their canteens to dine out in-house.
But the picture is very different in the supermarket. All ages unite in front of the paella counterdifferent types of pizza and spoon dishes.
They express their surprise at the influx of seniors using the catering service from Mercadona.
According to Esther Casado Prieto, director of Ready to Eat at Mercadona, we tend to think that the most targeted audience is young people, above all, because we believe they have less time. But the truth is that hardly anyone today wants to spend their time (whatever) preparing food?
Presumably, such centers will bridge the digital divide to which the elderly are exposed, among those who cannot use the Internet.apps popular Just Eat or Wetaka to get freshly cooked food at home.
What does an older consumer want from a caterer?
First of all, the interviewees mentioned gastronomic diversity. In a generation more concerned than others with achieving a healthy meal schedule, having a smorgasbord of substitutes for your traditional cuisine is vital.
Maria Leia, 69 years old Business Insider Spain who buys food prepared for his own pleasure during the week and “to feed my family at family gatherings on Saturdays”.
The rest of the week counts when morning comes to adjust the meal schedule: “Eggplant one day, zucchini omelette the next, and sometimes paella?.
When asked if there’s anything missing, he admits he’d like to see “more meat stew”, although he admits he hasn’t tasted all the gastronomic varieties on the counter yet.
“We’re seeing more and more older people consuming our products,” admits the manager of Mercadona’s Ready-to-Eat service, and “these types of consumers are the most demanding.”
“If I had told my grandmother to buy ready-to-eat lentils, she would probably have said that hers was better. But we see how they choose us every day and it makes us proud,” Prieto says.
Prieto says they try to offer traditional food from the supermarket and dishes that are “hard to cook, like paella.” Also those that “require a lot of time, like stuffed eggplant or croquettes,” the manager continues.
Additionally, top-rated dishes can be reserved so they’re ready to eat as soon as the customer decides.
This welcome has led to the expansion of the prepared dining area at Mercadona. ?This year, we launched the Ready to Eat application in nearly 150 of our stores and we currently have a presence in over 900 stores‘, says Prieto.
Other supermarkets, such as El Corte Inglés, have been offering a wide variety of prepared foods in selected centers over the years. At its flagship establishment on Madrid’s Calle Preciados, foodie restaurants converge with vast stalls selling empanadas, croquettes and pasta that entice shoppers.
The clerk in charge confirms that “there are more people coming in for elaborate meals even at the last minute before it closes”.
Other big companies in the industry, such as Dia or Lidl, have made their strategy ?for now? a customer service.
The realization of these areas dedicated to ready-to-eat gastronomy is likely to be a blow to small businesses. However, in Santa María de la Cabeza Market (Madrid) they are optimistic, “there are always people looking for our products for their quality, and we believe the public will continue to grow.”
While many consumers throw themselves into the kitchen during the toughest moment of shutdown, the return to normal includes a shift towards less kitchen and more leisure time.
How much does it cost who? Items from both food stalls and areas in supermarkets range from 5 to 10 euros. Sofia, 85, a Mercadona customer confirms that she has found an economic benefit in the purchase.
?I spend less on food, so I get all the ingredients I need. Sofía, are there people waiting in line who might ask for a smaller amount or choose something else if they can’t due to economic conditions?
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