Stay-at-home orders and closed restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic gave way to more consumers cooking at home, bringing tremendous sales growth to grocery stores over the last several months. And for those consumers looking to make it a little easier on the cooking experience, meal kit solutions have seen a bump in popularity, too.
Home Chef, the company acquired by Kroger in 2018, can speak to that growth. The Chicago-based company said it delivers more than 3.5 million meals a month and has seen annual sales grow in the triple digits. In addition to being a delivery meal kit service, Home Chef meals are also sold exclusively inside Kroger’s 2,000 stores. The delivery service enables consumers to choose from nearly 20 weekly rotating recipes, controlling portion size and how many meals to be delivered a week.
In 2021, we expect to see the food-at-home trend continue with customers seeking convenience and embracing meal kit options like our oven-ready line that comes in an oven-safe tin, eliminating the need for messy dishes. Our ready-to-heat meal kits, pizzas, and soups require no preparation and can be heated in minutes on busy weeknights.
We are also seeing customers seek more variety and more choice in their meal plan. This past summer, we partnered with Impossible Foods to bring their meatless Impossible Burger to our menu. Our “Customize It” menu feature offers customers the opportunity to swap or double the protein in their meals to deliver a more personalized dining experience.
SB: What can we expect from Home Chef in 2021 and after the pandemic eases its grip on the country?
RD: We are very optimistic about the trend for meal kits over the coming years. The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people buy groceries — my parents were never online grocery shoppers before the pandemic, but now they will never go back. We have seen many new customers come into the category, including some who may not have considered meal kits before. We expect that many of them will continue to cook with Home Chef as they have come to appreciate the quality of our meals and the convenience they offer. We are continuing to listen carefully to our customer feedback and find new ways to provide them with a delicious home cooking experience.