Three Ideas About the Future of Meal Kits

By Erik Thoresen, Principal, on May 24, 2018

Seven months after Albertsons’ acquisition of meal-kit company Plated, rival grocer Kroger announced the acquisition of meal-kit competitor Home Chef, with plans to add meal kits to its brick-and-mortar shelves. As it stands today, two of the top four meal-kit competitors have joined forces with traditional grocers.

So, what does this mean for the future of the meal-kit market?

First, partnering with stores will help both Plated and Home Chef expand distribution and build new customer acquisition opportunities—a critical struggle for meal-kit companies. However, the aggressive growth of online grocery serves as a counterbalance to this brick-and-mortar play. One certainty is this: the pure play subscription model won’t cut it for most incumbents. Flexible subscriptions and on-demand offerings are essential.

Second, despite showing signs of maturation, the meal market is still in an experimentation phase. The business model and channel strategy will shift for major players over the next 12 months. For example, both Blue Apron and Chef’d now offer meal kits at Costco. Walmart also launched meal kits earlier this year. Similarly, consumer demand for meal kits at brick-and-mortar retail will create opportunities for smaller, innovative meal-kit companies to grow. In the end, “bolt on innovation” isn’t a seamless solution for grocers. Additionally, Amazon’s various meal-kit experiments—not to mention the acquisition of Whole Foods—suggest that new offerings are on the horizon.

Third, and most importantly, customization and user experience are key components of the meal-kit market that are still largely unproven in the traditional grocery space. Executing well in these areas will continue to serve as a competitive advantage for all players in the meal-kit market. Simply put, we are witnessing the beginning of the redefinition of the meal-kit value proposition, with lots of fine-tuning and some overhauls expected moving forward.


Erik Thoresen, Principal

Erik draws from his over 15 years of experience in market analysis, product development, and forecast modeling throughout the food and hospitality industries. Erik is a subject matter expert in the areas of technologies and futuristic developments impacting the food industry. Read more »

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Technomic Inc., a Winsight company, delivers a 360-degree view of the food industry. It impacts growth and profitability for clients by providing consumer-grounded vision and channel-relevant strategic insights. Its services range from major research studies and management consulting solutions to online databases and simple fact-finding assignments. Its clients include food manufacturers and distributors, restaurants and retailers, other foodservice organizations, and various institutions aligned with the food industry. Visit Technomic at

About Winsight, LLC
Winsight LLC is a recognized leader in business-to-business media and information services for the convenience-retailing, foodservice and grocery industries. Winsight has an extensive media portfolio, including five publications: CSP, Restaurant BusinessFoodService DirectorConvenience Store Products, and Winsight Grocery Business. Winsight also offers a suite of digital products, including websites, e-newsletters, webinars, video products, mobile and tablet apps, and custom marketing solutions. In addition to more than 12 major EduNetworking conferences and advisory meetings, Winsight also produces seven exclusive, large-scale executive-level conferences: Restaurant Leadership Conference, Global Restaurant Leadership ConferenceOutlook Leadership Conference, Convenience Retailing University, FSTECMenuDirections and Restaurant Directions. In 2015, Winsight acquired Technomic Inc., a provider of primary and secondary market information and advisory services for the food industry. For more information on Winsight and its brands, go to

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