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retail merchandising solutions firm, asked consumers about meal
kits in its annual “The Why? Behind the Buy” and “The Why?
Behind the Dine,” recent studies and found among the 1,500 participants, usage doubled to 16 percent in 2016, from 8 percent a
year earlier. “The growth was primarily driven by Millennials and
GenXers, showing Millennials ordered meals more than the rest
of the population. They were also used more by higher income
households,” says Marianne Quinlan-Sacksteder, director of
insights for Acosta’s Center of Shared Business Intelligence.
For the first time, Acosta asked participants about their order
frequency with the kits. “About one-third ordered six or more
kits in the past three months, which is pretty significant, while
another third ordered only once or twice. So there is sort of that
dichotomy of trial,” observes Quinlan-Sacksteder.
Thoresen notes that although annual sales are approaching $2
Appeasing the ‘Demanding King’
billion, meal kits are still only a drop in the bucket in the $1.5 tril-
lion spent annually on food in the U.S. “At this point,” Thoresen
believes “meal kits are really more of a signal that there is an
opportunity for both restaurants and supermarkets to think dif-
ferently about how they do business.”
Meal kit services “are a disrupter that have been recognized by
both the retail grocery and foodservice industries,” says Angela
Fernandez, VP, retail grocery & foodservice at GS1 US, based in
Lawrenceville, N.J. “We are seeing some of the larger retailers con-
tinue to innovate to compete,” she says, citing Publix and Kroger,
which is testing a Prep + Prepared meal kit option in select stores.
“The consumer is king, and the consumer is getting very demand-
ing these days,” Fernandez continues. “We are in a very different
marketplace. Our traditional offering and channels of delivery
have proven they no longer work. The industry is going to have
to continue to be innovative to create new and better options to
please the consumer.”
One of the more innovative concepts is coming from The Fresh
Market, which has instituted its “Little Big Meal” program in all of
its 176 stores. Introduced in 2014 as a weekly Thursday pasta meal,
the grab-and-go meal program was expanded in 2016 to a new
recipe each week, offering satisfying solutions to the perennial
“What’s for dinner?” question every day, says Stephanie Lower,
public relations manager for the Greensboro, N.C.-based chain.
“Each ‘Little Big Meal’ recipe is tastefully curated with the finest quality, hand-picked ingredients of the season and offers a
quick and easy wholesome meal for four – available throughout
the month for $25 or less! Guests can visit The Fresh Market any
day of the week to pick up simple and delicious meals.”
Items include things like four gourmet store-made, ready-to-grill specialty burgers along with crisp corn and either macaroni
or potato salad, or Roasted Chicken Roll Ups with Vegetables
available in four flavor combinations.
Peeling Into a New Realm
Other retailers may wish to team with FreshRealm, which has
The Fresh Market’s
Little Big Meal’s feed
a family of four.