By Kathy Hayden // Progressive Grocer
Despite a lot of attention from investors and media last year, the longevity potential of meal kit delivery programs is still up in the air. These kits have hit a nerve among busy families searching for a way to put a decent dinner on the table, but the pre-planned, pre-measured kits are not one-size-fits-all solutions.
Instead, more consumers are seeing salvation in grocerants and prepared food sections, a trend that Whole Foods Market calls “mindful meal prep.” Whole Foods sees more shoppers in 2017 “asking themselves what they’d like to eat,” as well as “how they can stretch their dollar, reduce food waste, save time and eat healthier. As a result, they’re coming up with new strategies to get dinner on the table—sometimes that means making some of the meal and buying the rest, or batch cooking at the beginning of the week or using a meal kit that cuts down on prep time.”
Nielsen researchers have reported how “on-the-go meals direct from the grocery store continued to capture the attention of Americans.” Grocerant growth was in full swing across the United States in 2016, according to Nielsen, and included everything from prepared meals to grab-and-go to upscale in-store dining.
“Grocerants’ sales are climbing, posting growth of 16.4 percent over 2015,” according to Nielsen. “Value-added fruits and vegetables (e.g., pre-cut, pre-seasoned, side dishes and food trays) also generated exceptional growth, locking in sales growth of 9.4 percent and 8.9 percent, respectively.”
In addition, prepared meat is helping busy consumers get a jump start on meals at home, cutting down prep and cooking time and leaving only side dishes to prepare (or purchase from the salad and hot bars).