What do you get when you take a meal kit marketplace, cover it with the contents of a can of Cream of Mushroom, and let the two simmer over low? Probably something like this new partnership between Chef’d and Campbell’s.
Chef’d, the self-described “online gourmet meal kit provider,” has teamed up with Campbell’s to offer customers a selection of slow-cooker recipes featuring the canned soup giant’s products. This announcement comes 9 months after Campbell’s invested $10 million in Chef’d, making Campbell’s their largest strategic partner.
As of now, Chef’d offers 12 meal options with their “Campbell’s Kitchen” series. Recipes range from Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sliders to Slow Cooker Short Ribs—certainly an upgrade from green bean casseroles of yore (no disrespect). The meal kits come packed with preportioned ingredients: fresh protein, produce, dairy, seasonings, and any necessary pantry goods. Basically all that the customer has to provide is salt, pepper, and maybe olive oil (sadly, the slow cooker not included). A few meals, like the Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup, do include a can of Campbell’s soup, while others require Campbell’s products like Prego tomato sauce or Swanson’s broth.
If speed is your aim, this is not the meal kit selection for you. Many of the recipes take quite a while to come together, some requiring an extensive 7 hour cook time. This, however, is made easy by the inclusion of the slow cooker: one of the strongest selling points of the Chef’d-Campbell’s partnership. Of the 12 recipes on offer, half of them are made in the much-beloved appliance. (I should note that the recipes not made with a slow cooker take only 30 minutes to make.)
The emphasis on the slow cooker is, at least in my mind, is what makes this partnership intriguing; Campbell’s and Chef’d are trying to carve out a niche in the claustrophobically crowded meal kit delivery sector by capitalizing on the almost cult-like popularity of the Crock Pot and Instant Pot. Slow cookers make it possible for home cooks, even those with limited cooking skills, to produce complex, tender dishes on a tight schedule.
Surprisingly enough, Campbell’s and Chef’d are the first meal kit operation to fully capitalize on the slow cooker’s popularity. Other meal kit services have recipes that can be made in the appliance, but no line of products intended to be paired with a Crock Pot or the like. Speaking of Crock Pot, that company offers their own line of delivery meal kits, but requires the customer to buy any meat or dairy. This is markedly less convenient than a Chef’d meal kit, which includes fresh, pre-portioned ingredients so that the customer has to do little more than open, dump, and (slow)cook.
So will this partnership boost sales for Chef’d? It’s tough to say. Meal prices range from $27 to $30 for two servings up to $61 for six servings, which, when compared with other meal kits (such as Blue Apron, whose meals average $10 per serving), isn’t exactly a bargain. It’s also tough for vegetarians and vegans, with only one meatless recipe on offer: a Skillet Vegetable Lasagna with Herbed Cheese, which isn’t even made in the slow cooker.
If it is popular, however, it would probably say more about the ingrained popularity of Crock Pots (and the like) than about either Chef’d or Campbell’s. Success would indicate that slow cookers aren’t going anywhere—not quickly, anyway.