- Earth Fare has unveiled “Clean Food Security,” a program that features daily meal plans made to feed a family of four for less than $10, according to Progressive Grocer.
- The meals utilize Earth Fare brand and other “price locked” products offered on special through the retailer’s Daily Deal program. One example is a $5 humane-certified roasted chicken offered every Monday.
- “There’s a misconception that clean, healthy eating costs more,” Earth Fare president and CEO Frank Scorpiniti said in a statement. “The truth is, not taking care of our health through the foods we eat is what’s really costly. Our customers are able to shop confidently, knowing that the items they buy are the cleanest, healthiest products available, and Clean Food Security allows them to feed a family of four dinner for just $10.”
Whole Foods has its price cuts, and now Earth Fare has its low-price “clean” meals. Although they’ve debuted to considerably less fanfare than Whole Foods’ discounts under new owner Amazon, Earth Fare’s meal offer says a lot about where natural and organic retailers are focused these days.
The curiously named “Clean Food Security” program features a meal plan and theme for every night of the week. Monday is “Whole Roasted Chicken Night,” complete with roasted chicken and sides for $7.69. Tuesday switches to “Family Pasta Night” for $9.99. For variety’s sake, there’s also “Rib Night,” “Chicken Pot Pie Night” and “Grass-Fed Fajitas Night.” All of the meals feature store brand and discounted products produced without GMOs, which are naturally or organically sourced.
There are lots of trends wrapped up in this promotion, including meal kits, clean labels, fresh ingredients and meal deals. But this initiative is really about capturing value-focused consumers and competing in a new natural and organic retailing ecosystem that now counts an Amazon-owned Whole Foods as its top player.
Earth Fare, which expanded very slowly for years until private equity ownership accelerated its store growth beginning in 2007, is known for its promotions, with deep discounts offered through its Daily Deals program. This is smart on the company’s part since pricing pressure throughout the industry, along with the rise of discount specialty chains like Sprouts and Lucky’s, means specialty chains can no longer rest on their high standards and freshness alone. Just look at Natural Grocers, which leans heavily on its product standards and has posted subpar earnings the past several quarters.
The meal deals add another dimension to Earth Fare’s value game. Like Whole Foods' recent price cuts, the discounted meals will likely be a profit loss for Earth Fare. But the chain can earn back sales through customer loyalty, and through sales of other products that might accompany the meals. Taste and ease of preparation for the meals will be key. Can Earth Fare’s meal deals overcome some of the headwinds meal kits have faced with adoption? If so, the retailer could have a hit on its hands.
Certainly, Earth Fare needs its meal deals and other promotions to pay off as it expands into new markets. The company recently discussed plans to build more than 20 stores in Florida over the next few years. Currently, Earth Fare has 43 stores in nine states, up from the 13 stores it operated a decade ago.