The Kroger Co. is offering shoppers the ability to customize any Home Chef meal kits that they order online–a feature said to be the first among major meal-kit brands.
Coming at the same time the grocery giant rolls out the kits to hundreds more brick-and-mortar stores, the new Customize It feature on HomeChef.com lets customers swap, double or upgrade ingredients on many of the available recipes.
“Our customers asked for more ways to customize their Home Chef meals, and we listened,” said Pat Vihtelic, Home Chef founder and CEO. “We are excited to be the first leading meal-kit company to introduce these new Customize It choices for everyone seeking the same great Home Chef meals with even more variety and choices.”
With the latest expansion, Kroger plans to have Home Chef retail meal kits available at 500 additional stores across banners such as Fry’s, King Soopers, Fred Meyer and QFC.
“Kroger continues to redefine the customer experience and provide new ways to shop for, prep and cook meals through exciting brick-and-mortar and digital experiences,” said Robert Clark, Kroger’s SVP of merchandising. “Last October, Kroger introduced Home Chef retail meal kits, and we’re now expanding to add the easy-to-prepare recipes to hundreds of new locations, providing convenient access to the meal solution at more than 700 stores. We look forward to the continued growth of Home Chef in 2019 through expansion and new products.”
Sales of in-store meal kits in the U.S. grew 26.5% over the past year, reaching US$154.6 million, according to the Nielsen report The Meal Kit Opportunity. (Despite the buzz about meal kits, the market is still in its infancy in Canada—as of 2017, only 4% of households purchased a meal kit in the past 12 months, according to Nielsen.)
People who purchased in-store meal kits noted such advantages as less commitment than those purchased through subscription-based services, and increased flexibility for grocers and their suppliers to experiment with components and “levels” of convenience to keep shoppers returning. Arguably, by adding the Customize It feature online, Kroger could be meeting that desire for experimentation with components.
Kroger announced its plan to purchase the Chicago-based meal-kit service in May, with the idea of complementing its own Prep+Pared line of meal kits. The $200-million acquisition wrapped up in late June.
A version of this article appeared at ProgressiveGrocer.com.