No doubt about it: Meal kits are growing in popularity. From their beginnings as items ordered over the internet and delivered to consumers’ doorsteps, they’ve migrated to grocery store shelves, with retailers such as Kroger and Publix offering their own versions.
Makers of certain shelf-stable products, however, want shoppers to know that there are other ways to whip up a meal with a minimum of fuss.
“The ability to stock up, and to keep product on hand for a quick weeknight meal, is a need that isn’t going away, and meals with brief shelf lives simply can’t help with that,” points out Mike Siemienas, spokesman for Minneapolis-based General Mills, maker of the Helper lines of packaged meals that perhaps collectively represent the granddaddy of shelf-stable meal solution concepts, to which a protein such as beef, chicken or tuna is designed to be added. “Hamburger Helper and other boxed dinners offer consistency and convenience that busy families have come to rely on.”
The company continues to improve its Helper and Suddenly Salad offerings, according to Siemienas, by “now using 100 percent real cheese in our Helper cheese varieties, for instance, and all of our top-selling Helper products are free of artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources. Moving forward, we will continue to introduce new flavors and sizes to appeal to a broader range of consumers.” General Mills has also upped its price promotion spending and is working with retailers “to plan more robust display and on-pack offerings,” he says, adding, “We’ve also focused more on social media and experiential marketing to better reach the Millennial consumers, who are increasingly attracted to the reliable flavor and convenience of brands like Helper.”