- A new line of healthy, quick-prep meals from WW (formerly Weight Watchers) is now available at more than 200 Hy-Vee grocery stores across the Midwest, according to a WW press release. The chef-inspired, nutritionist-approved WW Fresh meals take 10 minutes or less to prepare, according to the company.
- Each WW Fresh meal serves two people and will be priced around $14 to $20. Ingredients are pre-prepped, pre-cooked and only need to be combined and heated. There are six WW Fresh meal options coming to Hy-Vee, with selections such as grilled chicken tacos with roasted chipotle sauce and pineapple slaw, a dragon bowl with Thai peanut sauce, and lemon, chicken and kale salad with parmesan and almonds.
- “We believe WW Fresh will really stand out in the market,” said Ryan Nathan, Vice President of WW Fresh at WW, in a press release. “Curated by WW, the new quick-prep meals are nourishing, convenient options for anyone looking to pick up a meal on the way home and enjoy a home-cooked dish, ready and on the table in minutes.”
Hy-Vee is no stranger to the prepared meals and meal kit category. The grocer first announced plans in 2017 to build a facility that would support more fresh-cut produce, meal kit creation and prepared meals, and its popular Hy-Vee Mealtime Kits are available in stores, online and in Hy-Vee’s new Fast & Fresh format store. Hy-Vee also offered a line of Holiday Meal Packs over the 2018 holiday season to make holiday cooking easier for customers, and Hy-Vee Market Grille, the retailer’s restaurant brand, has started offering meal delivery.
While Hy-Vee already has fairly extensive meal kit and prepared foods offerings, its partnership with WW stands out for two reasons. First, the WW line may be a lighter variation of quick-prep meals that can help Hy-Vee further emphasize its commitment to customer health. Additionally, these meals are not defined as meal kits, and it’s possible that Hy-Vee and WW are hoping to catch the attention of customers who are cooling on the kit craze.
This may be the year that meal kits lose their luster with consumers. Shoppers today seem to be gravitating more toward quick meal options, and meal kit cooking can be time-consuming. Some meal kit companies are now offering express versions to satisfy the demands for quicker meals, but the ongoing struggles of companies like Blue Apron are no secret, and reports indicate a sales slowdown lies ahead.
Since its rebrand last September, WW has been hard at work partnering with other organizations and creating a new image focused on wellness over weight loss. In December, WW announced a partnership with Blue Apron to offer lightened-up meal kit recipes, and the company also sells its WW Fresh meals at select Sprouts Farmers Markets. If the meal line is successful at Sprouts and Hy-Vee, it won’t be surprising to see WW Fresh expand to other grocery stores.
In addition to evolving its fresh, healthy meal solutions with WW Fresh, Hy-Vee remains focused on a number of other efforts to extend health, wellness and convenience for its customers. Hy-Vee made a major push into the health space last year when it opened its first standalone Hy-Vee HealthMarket, and more locations are on the way. Last week, the company implemented a new pharmacy policy on refills for controlled-substances prescriptions – a savvy move as the retailer acquires more pharmacy records. The opening of Hy-Vee's new Fast & Fresh convenience store is also notable, giving customers a fast, convenient shopping experience with a range of freshly-prepared, quick meal options and fresh produce.