Grab N’ Go-The Future of the Cafeteria

By Stacy Clayton and Kristina McSpadden

Imperial Dade

Grab N’ Go is the hottest trend in the food industry today. From convenience stores, to restaurants, to the growing healthcare industry, Grab N’ Go is fast becoming a way of life in today’s society. There are many things that point to this trend, with the number one reason being the millennial generation. This group is the largest consumer of Grab N’ Go products. As Millennials are entering the healthcare industry at an increasing pace, it stands to reason that hospital cafeterias would benefit from a successful Grab N’ Go program.

What makes a successful Grab N’ Go program?

First, consumers want fresh and organic food offerings. A variety of selections is a must, as well as visual appeal. Remember, sharp and classy. Easy open containers that are easy to eat from. Followed by foods that are ethnically diverse and value.

Design is also key. Stations should be accessible and have easy flow. Place GNG items in the same area every day. Consumers like convenience and are willing to pay more for it. Make it worth their while.

Packaging is an integral part of a successful GNG program. People eat with their eyes. Use packaging that aligns with the food and travels well. Brown packaging is becoming very popular, it looks earthy and natural. It also sends an unspoken message to customers to RECYCLE. Use packaging with windows, as well as anti-fog containers. Customers must see what they are getting. Food should fit the packaging. You do not want to put a 5” sandwich in an 8” hinged container. Customers will feel like they are being cheated. Packaging should be stackable and easy to open. Use perforated lids or removable lids. PET is the most commonly recycled plastic nationwide. Try sugarcane or compostable products as well.


Reduce-Strive to minimize packaging, petroleum based materials and energy across the supply chain.

Reuse-Commit to using post-consumer recycled materials where available to produce new products.

Recycle-Actively engage in projects to increase the recycling of all foodservice packaging into new manufactured products.

Renew-Utilize renewable and compostable resources. Imperial Dade has partnered with all the suppliers, and more, below to bring you a profitable, sustainable and attractive GNG program -

· Bagcraft/Novolex

· Eco Products

· Southern Champion

· Pactiv

· Genpak

· Fabrikal

Your packaging should mirror the quality you are trying to portray. The key to successful packaging is experimentation and honest judgement. If it works pat yourself on the back. If it doesn’t, go back to the cutting board.

Some food for thought…

27% of total revenue from the entire hospital is comprised of the GNG program. Increase your profit by increasing quality. Be creative. Establishing signature meals and flavors will grow your customer base and keep them on site. The top five GNG sellers are salad, sandwiches, baked goods, salty snacks, and yogurt/fruit/parfaits. Try a variety of gourmet selections like hummus & veggies or salads with smoked salmon. Use croissants, rolls and wraps in addition to bread. Specialty cheeses, lean meats, and fresh vegetables are also a plus.

Some more secrets to your success…

Have a well-designed GNG section that is kept clean and well stocked. All products should be labeled correctly. Try a food labeling terminal system that customizes labels. There must be easy accessibility to cutlery, napkins, and straws as well as drinks. Finally and most importantly, it’s all about the PACKAGING!

If you have any questions or would like ideas please contact your Imperial Dade sales representative in your area.

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