The jury is still out on whether meal kits are a fad or an enduring trend. On the plus side, these kits offer convenient, fresh, pre-portioned and often high-end meals that require little talent to prepare at home. On the downside, they’re not cheap — averaging $8 to $10 a serving, or about double what the average household pays per person for a home-cooked dinner (and you still have to do the dishes).
It’s easy to dismiss this $1.5 billion to $2.2 billion market as a gimmick. In fact, only 5% of consumers have tried meal kits. (Obviously, Hamburger Helper is not considered part of this market.) Some food wonks believe meal kits have the potential to be “disruptive” to supermarkets, but not in the way they assume. Rather, meal kits represent the broader, interactive shopper-centric approach that seeks to merchandise complementary products that provide solutions more in tune with the way shoppers act when purchasing food.
A shopper-centric approach looks at what time-starved consumers are putting into their grocery carts and why they are doing so to provide meal solutions for their families. Whole Foods, for instance, stocks fresh and prepared meal components under a display featuring recipes and images of the finished meal. That fresh approach to merchandizing dovetails nicely with consumers’ lifestyles. For an Italian dinner, shoppers would separately buy packaged pasta (hopefully fresh), tomatoes, garlic and a baguette (at full price). Now, they can get all the fixings in one selection.
The opportunity for bakers who participate in the shopper-centric environment is to position bread and rolls as components of the meal — or meal kit for that matter — and branch out beyond the staid bread aisle.