Grocery stores embrace the niche to compete in crowded market 

    In the span of a typical week, Courtney Bush will often visit three, sometimes four, different supermarkets to pick up groceries for her family.

    She’ll make a run to Trader Joe’s, to Whole Foods and every other week there’s a visit to Costco for essentials like meat, produce, eggs and condiments. Sometimes she swings by other places, too. 

    While this might sound like a lot of grocery shopping, experts say it’s actually becoming the norm, especially for families like Bush’s. In a dual-working household with two kids, Bush is a big fan of meal prep in an effort to eat clean in their busy lives.

    “The clean eating and meal prepping journey naturally led us to shop at multiple grocery stores,” Bush says, “though I’ve always been a bit of a bargain shopper and didn’t mind shopping at multiple stores. I choose stores based on the types of food they carry—with a bent toward healthier options—the prices and how convenient they are for us.”

    The fact that consumers like Bush are shopping around could help explain why Baton Rouge is able to sustain an inordinate amount of grocery stores today. 

    Between the growing presence of national chains and a fortified group of local grocers, the fight for market share has been heating up for years. But, interestingly enough, no one has dropped out of the fray. In fact, within the past year, three new stores opened—Rouses at Arlington Marketplace, Matherne’s at Nicholson Gateway and Sprouts at Rouzan.

    To remain competitive, grocers are beefing up their own special selections and offerings to get customers in the door, making it increasingly difficult for people to find everything they want at just one place.

    There’s also the AG factor. Associated Grocers, a wholesale grocery supplier owned by its members, is based in Baton Rouge. Because most local grocers in the city are AG members, they have the collective buying power to help them compete against larger chains, which makes the market somewhat unique in that respect.

    There must be a point, it would seem, where the city reaches oversaturation, especially as new grocery stores continue to enter the market at a time when the Baton Rouge population is stagnating.

    Read Business Report’s latest cover package for a deep dive into Baton Rouge’s grocery industry. Send comments to editor@businessreport.com 

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