November 18, 2019


We’ve been talking a lot lately about the importance of inspiration and education. Those are essential, but they go hand in hand with execution. While it’s vital to provide resources for shoppers who need help creating meals when there’s no time to plan, it’s just as critical to focus on the basics.

We asked thousands of shoppers who had purchased or considered purchasing prepared chicken products from their grocer’s deli in the past three months, and about half of them said they had experienced deli failures. We compared their answers to those gathered from another group just one year earlier and found that persistent problems had not improved all that much and were often worse in some areas. From product issues to staffing issues to general deli issues, dissatisfaction was common when it came to product execution. Just as disturbing, the research suggested a growing trend in which shoppers are learning to tolerate deli failures as a trade-off for the convenience of purchasing prepared foods.1

That’s just not acceptable.
How can we expect shoppers to create a meal featuring prepared foods they’re proud to serve, when they are disappointed with the products or the department itself?

In another experiment, we asked families to make dinner using deli products for a week, shopping at familiar stores in their home areas. Regardless of the store, all of the participants were dissatisfied with the options because they were not educated about how to use the products to create a meal.2 Kids were among the most unimpressed when it came to making meals with prepared foods from the deli prior to being educated on how to use them. They shared sentiments like, “It was vomitosis.”

Breaking the Cycle

Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” It’s time to disrupt the cycle of disappointment and focus on what we can do to provide a more satisfying experience for prepared foods shoppers and their families. One of the most encouraging things we’ve learned is if we can help shoppers feel good about serving a meal featuring prepared foods just one time, they will feel good about visiting the department again, and that brings repeat business back to the store.3

To do that, deli’s mission must be threefold, equally focused on consumer inspiration and education, along with in-store execution. The mission begins by motivating shoppers through digital messages focused on easy meal ideas featuring prepared foods. It continues by guiding them through the store experience with educational resources such as recipe cards and clear signage. By scheduling production time to correlate with peak demand, we can also meet consumer expectations for product quality and deliver an overall experience that will bring them back again.


Failure Should Not be an Option

Nobody wants dinner to be “vomitosis.” Consumers have more choices now than ever before and they are willing to go elsewhere to find the satisfaction they seek. In this month’s Exclusive :60, we see how what happens in the deli influences overall shopping habits and the direct impact on the department and overall store sales.


Takeaway Points
1. Focusing on in-store execution improves the quality of general deli, products and staffing.
Delivering a more satisfying deli experience encourages repeat visits. 
Repeat deli shoppers translate to increased shopping visits to the store itself. 

We have all the resources shoppers need - in the deli and throughout the store - to help them create easy meals they can be proud to serve. But we must learn to recognize and leverage those assets. As we see in this month’s Exclusive :60, deli often misses the mark in meeting consumers’ needs, and that can have an adverse ripple effect on shopping behaviors. 

Tyson Foods Deli Division is committed to developing and sharing creative approaches to deli’s challenges. Learn more about Changing the Conversation and connect with the Tyson Deli team to find out more about the remarkable ways Tyson Foods is helping grow the prepared foods business for our customers at the speed they need, in a direction that makes an impact.


1. Tyson Foods, Consequences of Failure 2015, 2016

2. Tyson Foods, Prepared Foods Challenge, 2016

3. Tyson Foods, Attitudes and Usage Study, 2015