With today’s flurry of packed work and social schedules, the need for convenience has never been greater. From ‘on the go’ snacks and meals, to the evolution of how people eat in general (are you still eating three square meals a day?), it’s clear there’s room to evolve how food is prepared, shared, and eaten.
Cue door number 3: meal kits. Comprising fresh, pre-measured ingredients sold along with a recipe, meal kits allow people to prepare homemade food without a lot of advance thinking or prep, and with just the right amount of each ingredient. The recipes also serve as a source of inspiration and can introduce people to new dishes or food combinations.
Meal kits aren’t a new phenomenon. To date, the kits have largely been sold through subscription delivery services, ranging from Blue Apron to HelloFresh. And this may be part of the issue. There seems to be a barrier to use with the subscription model, whereas selling meal kits through grocery stores could fulfill an unmet need.
“Certainly the appeal of these premeasured meals is for those who value the sense of home-cooked meals: the smells, the sense of love expressed in cooking for family and friends, of doing something meaningful.”
– Karen Malody, Culinary Options
Meal kits have attracted a great deal of attention (and venture capital funding) in recent years. An industry forecast puts the market at $5 billion by 2020. Our research suggests there is potential to exceed that.
We found that half (49%) of all Americans are interested in meal kits. The appeal is that they offer easy, healthy variety and inspiration. Interest is even higher amongst millennials, those with children at home and Hispanics.
Those who are interested in meal kits have some clear differences in their attitudes toward cooking that shed light on why they are interested in meal kits. They are looking for:
- New ideas;
- Health eating;
- Easy ways to cook the food they want.
We asked people if they were interested in meal kits they could buy in a grocery store, and also if they could have them delivered to their homes. Amongst grocery shoppers, four in 10 were interested in grocery store pick-up and the same number were interested in delivery.
Education Opportunity for Grocers
While half of all Americans are interested in meal kits, and 86% are at least aware of them, trial is quite low, at only 14% having ever tried a subscription.
The biggest barrier for trial is a perception of being expensive. There’s also a general lack of clarity around how the subscriptions work, and how portion size, and recipe mix will reflect personal need. Clearly this affords grocery retailers the chance to educate shoppers about meal kits, and how they can work their way into regular lifestyle.
Grocery as a Gateway
Part of the reason for the gap between interest and actual usage is likely to be the delivery model, which has dominated the sale of meal kits to date. Most meal kit solutions require a subscription commitment, obligating themselves to a set number of meals per week. That’s quite a commitment for something you have never cooked or tasted.
In-store promotion reduces the price barrier because you can buy one meal—rather than committing to the outlay of a subscription. There is also the potential to tie-in meal kits with celebrity chefs and cross-promotions. Combined with a focus on education, grocery retailers are poised to take a step forward in the evolution of food prep. Given that many Americans are looking for easy, healthy inspiration for cooking, the future looks bright for meal kits.
For more information on how Hispanic shoppers and young families feel about meal kits, or how to take advantage of this unmet need, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.