Whole Foods appears to be preparing for a future where fewer people cook their own meals.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb said the chain expects an “explosion” in prepared foods targeting non-cooks.
“You’re going to see an explosion in food service and prepared foods and beverages, an explosion of choices for those who don’t want to cook,” Robb said. “And they will be able to get it on-demand. Ultimately [customers] are looking to the food store not just for food that they can cook but for food they can eat right now.”
Robb made the remarks in response to a question about the future of supermarkets. In addition to the expansion of prepared foods, he said he also expects supermarkets to get smaller and offer more fresh produce and proteins over packaged goods.
Whole Foods already offers a wide array of prepared foods.
The chain is well known for its massive salad bars and hot food bars, which offer fresh vegetables, fruit, soups, various cooked proteins, and sides like rice and mashed potatoes.
Whole Foods also offers freshly prepared sandwiches, pizzas, sushi, and other options.
The company is planning to add even more options in the future.
Whole Foods recently took a minority stake in Los Angeles-based restaurant chain Mendocino Farms.
Mendocino is planning a massive expansion with the investment. In addition to opening new standalone restaurants, Mendocino will also open restaurants inside new and existing Whole Foods stores.
The restaurants will serve the sandwich chain’s full menu and be wholly operated by Mendocino.
The menu includes items like “not so fried” chicken, spicy lemongrass steak banh mi, house smoked chicken and street corn torta, and prosciutto and free range chicken.
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