Grocers Seek New Recipe For Success With Meal Kits, Challenging Online Purveyors

By Benjamin Romano
The Seattle Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) While subscription-based services that ship meal kits to people’s homes are convenient, some customers are frustrated by the amount of packaging they come with (ice packs and insulation materials). Grocery stores are now trying to address that issue with their own ready-to go products.

SEATTLE

If you want pre-portioned ingredients and recipes to cook and eat at home, your array of choices is growing.

As online meal-kit pioneers such as Blue Apron struggle for profitability, the grocery industry they sought to disrupt, from national giants to local chains, is getting into the business.

PCC Community Markets, the Seattle-based co-op focused on local and organic food, begins its meal-kit program Wednesday, seeking to stand out in a crowded field with recipes developed in-house, with high-quality ingredients, boxes packed in its stores daily and minimal packaging.

That follows QFC’s local introduction April 1 of the Prep+Pared meal kits that parent company Kroger began testing last summer.

Next month, Portland-based chain New Seasons Market will debut its meal kits.

Albertsons, the Boise, Idaho-based consolidated grocery giant, took a different route into the meal-kit business last fall when it acquired Plated, one of Blue Apron’s largest competitors.

Amazon, too, is active. The online commerce giant began selling its own meal kits last summer, and offers them at its Go store. It also teamed up with All­recipes.com last fall to deliver ingredients from certain popular recipes via AmazonFresh.

PCC Chief Executive Cate Hardy said grocery stores are “uniquely positioned to win in meal kits.”

While subscription-based services that ship meal kits to people’s homes are convenient, some customers are frustrated by the amount of packaging they come with, ice packs and insulation materials necessary to keep ingredients cool en route.

The subscription model also locks people in to a regular cadence of deliveries, which can be desirable until your plans change and unmade kits start filling the fridge. They also get knocked as pricey.

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