Chef'd Grows Meal-Kit Availability in Physical Stores

Chef'd Grows Meal-Kit Availability in Physical Stores
Chef'd meal kits are now available at several brick-and-mortar grocers

Meal-kit provider Chef’d has widely expanded availability of products through a number of brick-and-mortar grocers, including Costco, Harris Teeter, Hy-Vee and Weis Markets, following distribution agreements with upscale Southern California grocer Gelson’s Markets and Northeastern food retailer Tops Markets.

The expansion comes in partnership with Smithfield, Va.-based meat processor Smithfield Foods, making the kits available at a dozen-plus retailers in 27 states. The in-store offerings feature “elevated versions of weeknight dinner classics,” including 20 Clove Garlic Chicken with Mashed Purple Potatoes and Spinach, Weeknight Chicken Pad Thai with Carrots and Sugar Snap Peas, and Black Truffle Butter Sirloin Steaks with Roasted Garlic Potatoes and Asparagus.

Developed in partnership with celebrity chefs and renowned brands, the kits contain ready-to-cook, portioned ingredients, including fresh herbs, leafy greens and USDA Choice proteins, each designed to serve one to two people. Each prepares in 10 to 30 minutes and retails at a starting price of $14.99.

“The expansion of Chef’d into retail enables us to serve the large group of shoppers who have never tried a meal kit but are eager for non-subscription solutions,” explained Sean Butler, SVP of retail at El Segundo, Calif.-based Chef’d. “Our goal is to give more shoppers more meals in more places to help them eat better, save time and explore new flavors.”

Widening availability of the kits is just one way Chef’d has been working to increase access to, and ease in, preparing home-cooked meals for the time- and experience-starved. Last month, eating-technology company Innit, which claims to be the developer of the world’s first connected food platform, integrated with Chef’d to provide ingredients of select meals on Innit to be ordered as a meal kit through the service. The new partnership further enhances Innit’s experience in providing customizable meal recommendations, video-based guided cooking instructions and smart-appliance connectivity. It also allows consumers to order the exact ingredients for their meals in-app, taking them from meal discovery to planning, purchasing and cooking a meal, all on one platform.

Chef’d, which inked its original brick-and-mortar deals last August with Gelson’s and in November with Tops, is one of the earliest pure-play ecommerce meal-kit services to understand the importance of brick-and-mortar partnerships for survival. Since then, others have struck up partnerships of their own, including True Chef with Bashas’ and Costco, and, most recently, Blue Apron with Costco. Additionally, Albertsons Cos. outright purchased Plated last fall and has since been expanding the kits' availability in physical stores nationwide.

Meal kits offered through brick-and-mortar food retailers have experienced impressive gains, new research from Chicago-based market researcher Nielsen shows. Sales of in-store meal kits grew 26.5 percent over the past year, reaching $154.6 million, with growth likely attributed to two advantages: They require less commitment than those purchased via subscription-based services, and they offer more flexibility for retailers and suppliers to experiment with components and “levels” of convenience that keep customers coming back.

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