Albertsons struck another nail in the coffin of mail order meal kits yesterday when the company announced that it will be ending its Plated subscription service and shifting that brand to become one of the retailer’s private label products.
From the press announcement:
As a result, Plated’s subscription service will be phased out at the end of November, giving way to a sharper focus on how the brand can help deliver a differentiated in-store experience. The company plans to expand the Plated brand with new product offerings in additional stores in 2020.
- In January its CEO, Josh Hix left the company
- In March Albertsons scaled back the availability of Plated meal kits
- In April Albertsons laid off ten percent of Plated’s corporate staff
The bloom is definitely off the rose for mail order meal kits. Blue Apron, a pioneer in the business, continues to limp along with dismal results. A report earlier this year from Nielsen said that sales of meal kits grew with in-store retail being the engine for meal kit growth. Research this year from NPD found that 93 million US adults hadn’t tried meal kits but wanted to, and that those who bought meal kits were happy with their purchase and that meal kits had an opportunity to expand beyond dinner.
That last bit helps explain why Albertsons said its Own Brands will manage Plated “into a holistic home meal solution” that goes beyond dinner. Meal kit company Sun Basket announced this summer that it was expanding its lineup of meal offerings to include breakfast, lunch and snacks. Albertsons’ rival Kroger has also been experimenting with a new lineup of meal kit options that offer more food flexibility and require less work to make.
What I’m curious about is whether we’ll see an uptick in meal kit sales as retailers like Amazon, Walmart roll out free and superfast same-day grocery delivery. Will people order meal kits, or will service continue to bend towards convenience and allow people to just go ahead and order hot bar options (e.g. fully cooked rotisserie chicken) that arrive in an hour?