- Kroger and Home Chef are piloting three new in-store meal kit styles, according to a company press release. The options include Home Chef Oven-Ready meals, which are packed in an oven-safe tin and feature recipes like Garlic Butter Salmon and Feta-Crusted Chicken; Home Chef Heat & Eat meals, which include complete meals like Bacon Macaroni and Cheese and Pork al Pastor priced at $6.50 or sides like Baby Back Ribs and Red Potatoes which can be mixed and matched; and Home Chef Lunch Kits, which do not require cooking and cost $6 per serving.
- HelloFresh has also expanded its in-store meal kit offerings with the launch of five spring-inspired meals, according to a press release sent to Grocery Dive. Options include Truffle Steak, Creamy Tomato Penne and Honey Sriracha Chicken. All meals take less than 30 minutes to cook, with pricing starting at $14.99 per meal.
- Home Chef's new meal kits will first be available in select Mariano's locations in Illinois and Kroger stores in Cincinnati and Columbus. HelloFresh will sell its meal kits at more than 500 Giant, Hannaford, H-E-B and Fareway store locations.
In the ongoing battle among meal kit companies to differentiate and win customer loyalty, new product offerings are a key marketing tool — especially in the growing $155 million in-store meal kit market. Fresh flavors and meal ideas like HelloFresh's are one of the most obvious ways to keep offerings fresh and exciting, but Home Chef has upped the ante with entirely new subcategories of meal kits that are targeting cost and convenience.
Meal kit makers have been trying to retain and attract customers in new ways since people began questioning the original model a couple of years ago. A chief complaint was cost, which drove 49% of consumers to cancel their subscriptions, according to a poll from Money Magazine and Morning Consult. A survey from Field Agent found that 63% of those surveyed said they don't buy meal kits because they're too expensive, and 16% of meal kit consumers said the amount of time it takes to prepare a meal is a drawback.
Chicago-based Home Chef is directly targeting consumers' appetite for quick, easy, budget-friendly meal solutions with its new offerings, providing ready-to-eat or quick-cook meals instead of meal kits that require the consumer do the meal prep. The company is not cutting out flavor, either, with oven-ready options like Garlic Butter Salmon, microwaveable Pork al Pastor and Lunch Kits including Greek Pasta Salad and a Mediterranean Steak & Feta Sandwich. With the Heat & Eat and Lunch Kit lines costing around $6 per serving, the new products could prove popular for on-the-go Kroger shoppers.
HelloFresh has already tested the quick meal solution, introducing a 20-minute meal option in 2017 and hinting at extending into ready-made meals last year. Its latest offering seems to be focused on expanding options within its retail footprint, a smart move as fewer consumers show interest in the subscription model. The company first began placing its kits on grocery store shelves last summer through a partnership with Ahold Delhaize.
The meal kit segment is cutthroat, with more than 150 companies vying for popularity in the increasingly crowded segment, which now encompasses both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail channels. Retailers including Publix, Amazon, Walmart and Hy-Vee are all in the game now, too. The abundance of options makes it a customers' market where they can enjoy flitting from one service to the next as their taste buds, wallets or sheer curiosity see fit.