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Meal Kits, the New Normal

Posted by Danyella Davis on Aug 2, 2017 3:06:50 PM

On-the-go consumers are flocking to alternative dinner solutions. With the growing demand for fresh, local, unprocessed foods and an amplified demand for convenience, the meal kit delivery service industry is bustling. So, what’s on your dinner plate?

According to Packaged Facts, 25% of Americans purchased meal kits within the last year and what some once considered a novelty, continues to capture the interest of a growing sector including millennials and Generation X consumers alike.

Since debuting in 2012, this industry has massively expanded reaching $5 billion in sales forecasting continued growth. Touting customized weekly menus, easy-to-follow recipes and vegan fare; 150 plus brands are vying for your attention.

Reinventing the nostalgia of home-cooked meals, strained-for-time consumers who value and prefer the dine-in-home experience are gravitating toward the meal-in-box delivery service. So, is this option for you? It depends on your priorities and goals.

Are you the health-conscious consumer driven by fresh foods and local produce, are you hoping to eliminate your frequent trips to the grocery store, lose weight with pre-portioned meals, or learn how to cook restaurant-style cuisine from home? 

The multitude of subscription meal kit delivery services aim to provide customers with the fresh food, flexibility and convenience they crave. Among the flurry of options, each service is working to separate itself from the pack, individualizing the product and putting their own personal spin on current offerings. From gluten-free and vegetarian meals to wine parings, key competitors including Blue Apron, Plated and Hello Fresh, are trying to position themselves as your preferred in-home dinning choice.

Though typically requiring an online subscription, some have moved away from this model and allow customers to select meals a la carte. As the movement toward providing greater convenience to the consumer continues, meal kit delivery services are increasing advertising buys and strategic placement on channels such as Baby First TV.

So, does selecting two to three meals from a pre-planned weekly menu sound appealing? If you’re not enticed by your pre-selected options, you’re able to customize your meals as long as they are listed in the week’s offerings.

However, research confirms that pricing has deterred some, causing consumers to ditch the meal kits due to relatively high cost compared to grocery store buys. According to Nielsen, 46% of consumers say they would be more likely to purchase a meal kit if it were less expensive. So what types of cost do such services entail?

Depending on the meal-kit provider and your subscription choice, whether ordering two, three or four weekly meals, selecting two-person plans or the family option, subscribers can expect to pay between $8.75 to $12.50 per serving, more expensive then the per-plate cost of eating a home-cooked meal. Consumer Reports say most meal kits cost nearly double what you’d pay for similar items at the grocery store.

However, previous meal kit users weighed in saying lower cost may incentivize them to subscribe again. Though some associate meal kit delivery services with exorbitant costs, the on-the-go consumer has spoken, and for now, meal kits are the new normal.

As consumer demands continue to drive change in the food industry, learn how you can locate and identify your best cold storage locations.