Campbell’s, Tyson & Other Packaged Food Biggies Eager To Jump Into Meal Kit Melee

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Not that long ago, folks with disposable income who wanted something resembling a decent meal but didn’t have time to do all the shopping would buy packaged foods and just heat them up. Now these consumers have the ever-growing rainbow of meal kit subscription services that deliver fresher, better ingredients to their door. But the makers of microwave dinners, pre-made meals, and canned goods aren’t giving up that easy — they want in on this whole meal kit thing.

The Wall Street Journal reports that food biggies have begun to team up with meal kit companies to get their products into the boxes shipped to consumers’ homes.

The combinations — which includes Tyson adding its chicken to Amazon’s Fresh service meals and ConAgra is working with online retailer Peapod on meal kits — are meant to help companies recoup costs lost when shoppers abandon stores for more convenient delivery options.

Research firm Technomic found in a January survey that 54% of consumers who tried meal kits anticipated that they spend less on grocery shopping while using the services.

As a result of these changing preferences, ConAgra Foods — parent company to dozens of brands including Chef Boyardee, Banquet, Marie Callender’s, and Healthy Choice — tells the WSJ that grocery stores that generate about 85% of the company’s sales have seen a steady decline in such sales over the past three years.

“We don’t want meal kits to continue to cut into sales,” Cheryl Bersin, manager of emerging technologies and e-commerce at ConAgra Foods Inc., tells the WSJ.

In an attempt to off-set these losses, the companies have worked to incorporate their products into already available meal kits.

For example, the WSJ reports that ConAgra added its Hunt’s canned tomatoes to Peapod’s Buffalo chicken quinoa and zucchini noodle primavera meal kits.

In September, Hershey partnered with meal kit company Chef’d to launch dessert kits that appear on Facebook Live videos.

In another instance, Campbell’s teamed up with Peapod to create kits for chicken pot pie using the company’s cream of chicken soups and broths.

As for the meal kit companies, they appear to be willing to work with the larger food manufacturers.

“It’s always the best product that wins. We’re not scared of anyone else coming into this market,” Dominik Richter, chief executive of HelloFresh, tells the WSJ.

Big Food Battles Meal-Kit Startups for Dinner-in-a-Box [The Wall Street Journal]

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