Kroger Expands Meal Kits to 200 More Stores
The Kroger Co. is expanding its Prep+Pared meal kits to 200 more stores by the end of this week, The Columbus Dispatch has reported.
The kits, which the Cincinnati-based grocery giant piloted earlier this year and will compete increasingly with others from rival grocers and pure-play delivery services as store distribution expands, will now sell in stores across several markets – including Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis – though not in all Kroger-owned stores in these markets, the newspaper said. For instance, central Ohio will see the kits being sold in 20 stores by Dec. 15.
Kroger’s Prep+Pared meal kits come with the ingredients necessary to prepare a meal for two in about 20 minutes, with prices starting at around $14. Dishes include Moroccan Inspired Spring Vegetables, Creamy Chicken + Bacon Alfredo, Japanese Inspired Beef Bowl, and Chimichurri Steak.
The meal-kit market has reached an estimated $1.5 billion over the past five years, according to Rockville, Md.-based market research firm Packaged Facts, with continued growth expected in the years to come. At the same time, the market has become oversaturated, with several pure-play delivery services striking or seeking deals with brick-and-mortar grocers to increase exposure while also offering a point of differentiation to retailers.
Even services such as New York-based Blue Apron, arguably the dominant player in pure-play kit delivery, have been having difficulty since its IPO in June, with its most recent shakeup involving the resignation of CEO and co-founder Matt Salzberg. Many experts agree that physical stores are a necessity for pure-play services to survive, and Kroger appears to have understood this early, launching the Prep+Pared kits this May in four Cincinnati-area stores, and then expanding them across a combined 37 stores by the end of summer. Other grocers that have jumped onto the private-label meal-kit bandwagon early include Coborn’s, Giant-Landover and, more recently, Publix. Major Kroger rival Albertsons also made a smart decision to enter the meal-kit area when it outright purchased Blue Apron rival Plated in September.