Meal Kits Explode in Brick-and-Mortar Stores

SoCal grocer Gelson's partners with Chef'd to increase exposure and sales of the service's gourmet meal kits through brick-and-mortar stores.

Services such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh might make up the majority of meal kits purchased, but kits offered through brick-and-mortar food retailers have experienced impressive gains, new research from Schaumburg, Ill.-based market researcher Nielsen has revealed.

Sales of in-store meal kits grew 26.5 percent over the past year, reaching $154.6 million, according to the report, “The Meal Kit Opportunity.” At the same time, total brick-and-mortar sales for center store edibles – including shelf-stable, dairy and frozen foods – dipped 0.1 percent to $374 billion.

This growth could be attributed to the advantages that in-store kits provide over those offered through online services: 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.

Currently, in-store meal kits are made up of three product types, all of which include at least one fresh component: Some 10 percent of them are full kits, which include all components and require several steps during preparation, while 15 percent are starter kits, with most but not all components of a meal kit. The majority, however, are quick kits, which, making up three in four kits, have all components but take only one to two steps to prepare.

To successfully invest in meal kits, retailers should determine what price, prep time or level of difficulty, quantity and quality of meal kits make the most sense for their shoppers, Nielsen’s report recommends.

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