- Albertsons announced it will roll out Plated meal kits to hundreds of its banner stores by the end of this year, according to a news release. Brands that will soon stock the kits include Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market and Haggen.
- Albertsons currently offers Plated meal kits in 20 Northern California Safeway stores and 20 Jewel-Osco stores in Chicago. The retailer acquired Plated last fall for an estimated $200 million.
- Plated currently offers six meal kits for purchase in store, including crunchy chicken Milanese with honey mustard and arugula, roasted chicken au jus with orzo and peas and beef noodle bowls with dinosaur kale and mushrooms. The kits will be available for home delivery through Instacart, and through Albertson’s store-pickup service, Drive Up and Go.
When Albertsons bought Plated last fall, it was the first grocer to make a major investment in the meal kit space. In the several months since then, numerous retailers have introduced new kits and expanded availability in a bid to tap into the demand online companies like Blue Apron and HelloFresh revealed.
Meijer and H-E-B now offer in-store meal kits. Ditto Giant Eagle, Publix and Supervalu’s retail division. Kroger, meanwhile, has been steadily expanding its Prep & Pared meal kit selections to stores on the West Coast and in the Midwest.
The biggest challenger is Walmart, which last month announced it had begun offering three different styles of meal kit — from heat-and-eat to 15-minute prep options — and would roll these out to 2,000 stores by the end of this year.
So Albertsons has some stiff competition on its hands. On the plus side, it has a well-known brand in Plated that should deliver sales in-store as well as online. The meal kit pioneer’s expertise in data gathering and technology will also no doubt inform Albertsons operations, in kit sales and beyond.
“The retail and food offering of the future is going to be omnichannel,” Plated CEO Josh Hix told Food Dive in an interview shortly after last year’s acquisition. “It’s going to have an online component for home delivery, it’s going to [have] a component for store pickup, and it’s going to have a component for more traditional in-store experience. We certainly don’t know much about retail, but I think we’re pretty good at the online stuff.
Online services still dominate meal kit sales, but supermarkets are gaining ground and could eventually become the preferred purchasing destination. Consumers reluctant to commit to a subscription plan seem to prefer the convenience of picking up a kit in-store. Online players are also struggling to make money, with high marketing costs and customer churn cutting into profits.
In perhaps the most telling sign that supermarkets could be the future for meal kits, Blue Apron recently announced it’s in talks with retailers to sell kits in stores by the end of this year.
According to Nielsen, grocery meal kit sales last year rose 26.5% last year to $154.6 million. The growth this year should be even bigger this year, meaning there’s room for grocery chains of all sizes to dive into the category.