Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

While I’m Fishing, the Grocery Industry is Churning

Dateline: 4:22 pm October 24, 2017 Filed under:

On a couple occasions this summer I was able to go fishing on a Thursday. That’s the day we receive delivery from our CSA from Turnip Rock. I arrive home with a couple fish on the stringer, eager to know what vegetables we got from the farm. For dinner the entire meal is either direct from “our” farm or caught by me, including a growler of beer from the Northbound! It’s pretty cool to come home with a fresh catch for dinner, but even more gratifying to know my kids understand where some of their food comes from.

Good Old Fashioned Walkable Urban Grocery Store

I do grocery shop in the conventional sense, and arrive by car to do so. That said, I couldn’t feel father from the norm when it comes to some current trends in food delivery. While I’m fishing, people are increasingly gravitating towards prepared foods at grocery stores. According to the JLL 2017 Grocery Report, “grocerants,” a combination of restaurant and grocery store, are on the rise as customers favor convenience and time savings.

Still, only 9% of us buy groceries online. Speculation abounds as to why, but it may explain in part why Amazon purchased Whole Foods earlier this year. For insight as to why groceries are still such a hands-on experience, listen to the Where We Buy podcast by James Cook of JLL here. “Thin margins make it expensive to deliver profitably,” notes Cook, getting at the ongoing challenge of online grocery delivery.

And yet, disruption is occurring, as the Knowledge Leader blog at Colliers International notes. According to Colliers, three things are happening: the “click and collect” model, the “personal shopper” model, and the “meal kit” model. Perhaps most interesting is the “meal kit,” whereby customers order meals online, either prepared or as recipes, to be delivered to their home. Colliers notes that all three deal with the last-mile of delivery, and there are a number of startup companies and legacy grocers chipping away at these models.

New Mississippi Market on East 7th in Saint Paul

Here in the Twin Cities, grocery trends are certainly churning. There’s a new Trader Joe’s opening soon in downtown Minneapolis, co-ops like Lakewinds are emergent, and the growth of HyVee is causing old locals like Cub Foods (now just Cub) to change their offerings.

Turnip Rock delivers to CSA members on a weekly basis in the summer. Their drop sites include a couple local co-ops, as well as our garage. We love the vegetables they deliver, but we also order meat from them, and their cheese is awesome. Luckily you can find their Cosmic Wheel Creamery cheese at the Mill City Farmers Market (try the feta!).


So my old fashioned notion of walking to my local Lunds grocery store may never come to fruition. I can’t decide if our family is ahead of the curve or woefully behind in a retro kind of way. I do know that bass is good with Shore Lunch, cooked in bacon grease, and fresh carrots from Turnip Rock are outstanding. What is true is that things are changing, how we get our food is being disrupted, and options will likely continue to increase and bifurcate.

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