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Panera Bread launches Panera Grocery, digging into food retailing business

Panera Grocery built as a standalone service

Panera launched Panera Grocery, making some inroads into the food retailer category. At a time when nearly all on-premises dining is closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, restaurants are turning to pantry items, specialty foods, butcher meats, family kits and many other types of market items to draw in additional business. According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry lost $25B in sales during the first three weeks of March. And foodservice consultancy Technomic projects the foodservice industry this year could tally as little as 73 percent of the sales it posted in 2019.

[Related article: restaurants face grim prospects, ask for help, see hope]

Pricing might be reasonable Panera has access to a wide distribution system. Customers can select from an assortment of grocery items that are much in demand, including milk, bread and produce. Those looking to order these types of products (see the descriptions provided by Panera Bread below) can do so at participating locations for pick-up and delivery through the Panera app or its website. Orders come contactless through Grubhub delivery if the option is chosen or via Rapid Pick-Up, drive-up and drive-thru at Panera cafes:

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  • Freshly Baked Breads & Bagels: classic white loaf; whole grain pan loaf; French baguette; bagel packs
  • Milk & Dairy: skim milk and 2% milk gallons (at participating cafes); Greek yogurt, yogurt tubes; plain cream cheese
  • Fresh Produce: apples, avocados, blueberries, red grapes, vine ripe tomatoes
Panera Bread will offer much-in-demand pantry items through its Panera Grocery standalone service. Photo by Panera Bread.
Panera Bread will offer much-in-demand pantry items through its Panera Grocery standalone service. Photo by Panera Bread.

The bakery-cafe chain maintains Panera Grocery as a separate, ingredients-based service. According to its announcement, “Panera Grocery items are “clean – free of artificial preservatives, flavors, sweeteners and colors from artificial sources.” Panera Bread also announced it had stepped up sanitation procedures at all restaurants and implemented contactless delivery and mindful packaging, with seals for peace of mind. Currently, the 2,174-unit fast casual, which also operates St. Louis Bread stores, serves guests in to-go mode only at all company-owned cafes.

“With this new service, we can help deliver good food and fresh ingredients from our pantry to yours, helping provide better access to essential items that are increasingly harder to come by,” said Niren Chaudhary, Panera Bread chief executive. Recently, the fast-casual chain also launched curbside pick-up for added customer convenience and throughput.

Photo credit: Emily Griffioen (featured), Panera Bread (inline)

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