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Kroger Enters Meal Kit Business

The Kroger Co. has launched an initiative to compete with meal kit delivery services such as Hello Fresh and Blue Apron, the Cincinnati Business Courier has reported.

Dubbed Prep+Pared, the Cincinnati-based company's line of meal kits comes with the ingredients necessary to prepare a meal for two in about 20 minutes. Dishes include Moroccan Inspired Spring Vegetables, Creamy Chicken + Bacon Alfredo, Japanese Inspired Beef Bowl and Chimchurri Steak. Prices start around $14, which is less than the $10-per-person average estimated by The NPD Group, in Port Washington, N.Y., though still a bit more than the $4 per person from meals made from components purchased in-store.

The kits are currently available in four Cincinnati stores – Hyde Park, Oakley, Harpers Point and Sharonville – but are slated to expand to more locations in the area. They can't be delivered yet, but customers can order them online via the grocer's ClickList service and pick them up at the Oakley and Sharonville stores.

Meal kits are a big business today, exploding into a $1.5 billion market over the past five years, according to Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts. That number is projected to double in the same timespan to come. While grocers have reason to fear services offering these kits, many are fighting back with solutions of their own, including Giant Food Stores, with its Fresh Meal Kits; Coborn's, with its To the Table Fresh Meal Kits; and even Whole Foods, which has begun selling Purple Carrot meal kits. Grocery delivery service Peapod is also the latest food retailer to enter the business.

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