7 Advances in Meal Kits

meal kit

Traditional retail channels are upping their meal-kit game, and more pure-play meal-kit purveyors are coming out of the woodwork as well. This, combined with recent sales data, suggests now is an ideal time for convenience-store retailers to consider expanding their meal-bundling expertise to give consumers easy, finish-at-home meal options.

New research from New York-based Nielsen found that as 2017 ended, in-store meal kits generated $154.6 million in sales, posting growth of more than 26% year over year. For context, total brick-and-mortar sales for center-store edibles (e.g., groceries, dairy and frozen foods) dipped 0.1% last year to $374 billion, Nielsen reported.

Furthermore, 9% of Americans—or 10.5 million households—said they purchased a meal kit in the past six months, according to Nielsen. Of those, 6% purchased the meal kits exclusively online. Additionally, 25% said they would consider trying a meal kit in the next six months.

“Retailers and pure-play meal kit providers alike … need to clearly articulate the value their offerings provide when pitted against traditional options,” Nielsen said.

Click through to view seven meal-kit options now available to consumers.

1. Aldi

aldi

Aldi’s "Ready, Set, Cook" offer includes five different meals—Chicken Tikka, Chicken Fajita, BBQ Pork Stir Fry and Beef Stroganoff—intended for two people. Aldi said its prices for the meals are 70% less than those from delivery services. The meals currently are available only in the United Kingdom.

2. Weight Watchers

weight watchers

In March, Weight Watchers International unveiled WW Healthy Kitchen, quick-prep, preportioned meal kits and individual fresh-food products, in partnership with FreshRealm, an innovator in the fresh-foods industry. The kits will arrive in retail during the second half of 2018. “There has been a shift in what people demand as it relates to the food they consume. People are busier so they want convenience, but they also desire fresh foods whether they are on-the-go or at home with their family,” said Michael Lippold, founder and CEO of FreshRealm LLC.

3. Walmart

walmart

After launching a meal-kit delivery initiative in 2017, Walmart is expanding the business with a plan to sell its preportioned meal kits and simple “one step meals” in 2,000 stores this year. The company, which has about 4,600 stores in the United States, is already selling them at 250 locations.

4. Wise Apple

wise apple

Wise Apple (formerly Chicago-based Pak’d Inc.) allows its members to set a delivery schedule, tell the provider how many meals they want per delivery and how often they want them. Two options for March include: Pita Pizza (apples and sun butter dip, crispy mozzarella fries and marinara pita pizza) and Turkey & Cheese Please (blueberry yogurt with granola, spinach and artichoke dip, turkey and cheddar cheese slices and red grapes).

5. Nurture Life

nuture life

Chicago-based Nurture Life Inc. offers a niche meal-kit model that has set its sights on an apparent unmet need: meals for toddlers. Users of its program can provide their kids’ ages and dietary preferences and Nurture Life's culinary team cooks up customized weekly menus. All meals are made to order and arrive cold but never frozen. All puree jars and food trays are sealed using modified atmosphere packaging. The company is capitalizing on busy parents “who are tired, stressed and struggle to satisfy the competing demands from different family members across multiple meal times,” according to founders of Nurture Life.
 

6. Bulkbox Foods

bulk box foods

Los Angeles-based Bulkbox Foods works directly with farmers to provide affordable organic produce and grass-fed meats straight to the consumer. It touts a program with meals available at less than $3 each—or enough food for up to 22 meals. Options include grass-fed beef and lamb, pork with no antibiotics or added hormones, organic seasonal veggies and nothing prepackaged or precut.

7. Kroger

kroger

Kroger recently added Prep+Pared Meal Kits to four more of its divisions: Central, Columbus, Fry's and Nashville, joining Cincinnati, Louisville and Ralphs. Ingredients in the kits are prepped and measured to precisely provide customers with only what is needed for each recipe so there is no waste. Prep+Pared Meal Kits feed two adults and range in price from $14 to $20.