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  • Recipe Guru Team

How Grocery Retailers Can Use Recipe Content To Help Consumers Adapt To Unfamiliar Ingredients

Back in March, I wandered around a supermarket with a 24-pack of toilet paper wondering if people would think I was panic-buying. I wasn't - we were out of toilet paper - but I will admit that I added an extra bag of pasta to my weekly online grocery order, just in case. I'm not alone. Panic-buying became a big part of our lives as Covid-19 made its way around the world. As consumers stocked up on everything from canned beans to flour, supermarket shelves emptied and disrupted supply chains meant some shelves remained empty for months. Meat was a particular issue, with more familiar cuts like chicken breasts selling out. This was compounded by Covid-19 outbreaks in meat processing plants, an issue that continues to impact not just meat processing plants but food processing plants in general. Empty shelves mean frustration for customers and frustrated customers will simply go elsewhere for their groceries. With Covid-19 uncertainty still raging, intermittently empty supermarket shelves will be a reality for the remainder of 2020 and beyond.

How can recipe content help when supermarket shelves are empty?

Consider the following scenario: A customer creates a meal plan for the week ahead that includes chicken breasts and ground beef. These are staple ingredients this customer is comfortable cooking with. The customer logs in to their main grocery retailer's website to place an online grocery order. Both chicken breasts and ground beef are sold out but chicken thighs and stewing beef are plentiful. The customer doesn't know how to adapt the meal plan to include these cuts and doesn't have the skills to cook them so they navigate to their second-choice grocery retailer's website instead.

This lost sale is preventable. Relevant recipe content empowers customers like this to adapt their meal plans on the fly and cook with unfamiliar ingredients. Making those recipes shoppable turns a potentially stressful situation into a quick, hassle-free experience that prevents consumers from jumping ship. It might seem like an extreme reaction, but 75% of consumers have tried new brands, places to shop or methods of shopping during the pandemic.

The 'buy now, figure it out later' approach to the pandemic pantry.

The unique situation presented by Covid-19 meant that consumers were stocking up on non-perishable foods such as beans and pasta before figuring out what to do with them. Think about your own pantry. Have you ever bought a particular ingredient to use in a recipe only for it to be used once and banished to the back of the cupboard because you couldn't think of any other uses for it? The 'buy now, figure it out later' approach resulted in confused home cooks staring into pantries full of unfamiliar ingredients. The search results back this up. Search interest in 'how to cook beans' peaked in March and April as consumers got to grips with the groceries they had stocked up on.

Similarly, consumers were faced with unfamiliar cooking methods. They'd stocked up on flour to bake their own bread but with yeast unavailable, search interest in 'bread without yeast' spiked significantly in March and April.

Increasing grocery prices might be even more of an issue

Increased grocery prices caused by supply chain disruption are also an issue for consumers. Meat and eggs have been particularly affected, and economic uncertainty means consumers are seeking out cheaper sources of protein. Pulses are an obvious example. They're cheap, filling and take on flavour well but many home cooks are less experienced with them than they are with other sources of protein such as meat. Again, relevant recipe content can step up to solve this potentially stressful situation. Highlighting budget-friendly recipes that use cheap but unfamiliar ingredients on grocery and food brand websites adds true value for consumers, both monetary and otherwise. A consumer who is trying to feed a family nutritious meals on a lower salary will appreciate and remember a grocery retailer that has adopted this strategy when they're next placing a grocery order.

Turning creatures of habit into creatures of discovery

In an ideal world, we'd all have access to the food we want when we want it, but food insecurity, supply chain issues and a gap in cooking skills are all reasons why this is not possible. While grocery retailers and food brands may not be able to solve all of these issues, they can use recipe content to change people's mindsets and help them adapt to what is available. In times of uncertainty, we turn to the familiar, but when the familiar isn't available we seek out trusted alternatives. Consumers already trust their primary grocery retailer to help them reach their health goals. Helping consumers adapt to unfamiliar ingredients can enable grocery retailers to build on this trust, fostering loyalty and gaining valuable insights into the way people are cooking and eating.

Looking for reliable recipe content to help your customers get to grips with unfamiliar ingredients? Our recipe content is tried-and-trusted, giving your customers a reason to come back for more. If you'd like to learn more, we'd love to chat.

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