- Publix stores now carry slow-cooker meal kits, including chuck roast, chicken and dumplings and pork carnitas, according to the Tampa Bay Business Journal. Each kit serves four, and ranges from $14.99 to $19.99.
- The kits, which debuted Nov. 13, are currently offered in the meat department at select stores. According to a spokesperson, every store has the ability to order the kits, depending on customer preference.
- Earlier this year, Publix began testing meal kits through its Aprons program at two Florida locations. In September, the company added a third location in Lakeland.
While meal kit companies struggle to acquire customers and differentiate their offerings, retailers are finding they have a distinct advantage in this growing category: A built-in customer base, and a trusted brand.
Publix certainly enjoys a high level of shopper loyalty thanks to its customer service, execution and creative merchandising. The slow-cooker kits reflect this spirit of innovation, and are a natural line extension for the company’s meal kits during cooler winter months.
Recent years have seen an explosion of consumer interest in slow cookers. According to a recent NPD report, people are dusting off their decades-old Crock Pots and other devices as a way to conveniently prepare fresh ingredients with loads of flavor. In 2015, according to the firm, Americans bought 12.6 million slow cookers.
Publix will test the market for these kits, just as it’s currently testing the appeal of its Aprons meal kit line. Those selections are available in three different varieties: Simple, which requires six or more steps; Simpler, which requires four steps or less; and Simplest, which just requires heating and eating each meal. Dishes include Southwest pork Caribbean chicken wings and beef brats with sauerkraut.
This model is similar to Supervalu’s Quick & Easy Meals, which also offer dishes ranging from heat-and-eat to full-on prep. And it reflects an overall trend in meal kits toward saving time in the kitchen, with some meal kit companies offering 15-minute meals.
Other retailers eager to tap into promising new categories are trialing meal kits in their stores, as well. Kroger has its Prep + Pared meal kit line, which recently expanded to Ralphs stores in California, while Walmart just started offering kits on its website. Albertsons, meanwhile, recently became the first retailer to buy a meal kit company, purchasing industry pioneer Plated for a reported $200 million.