Will Shoppers’ Enthusiasm for Meal Kits Remain Strong in 2019 Nielsen Retail & Food Service
In 2018, meal kit mania took the U.S. grocery retail market by storm. Seemingly overnight, these easy-to-use/easy-to-prepare boxes—filled with fresh, pre-portioned ingredients for consumers to create a healthy home cooked meal—were popping up everywhere. What started as a mostly web-exclusive offering, aimed at delivering fresh, time-saving options, has now grown into a multi-billion dollar industry that stretches across retail’s omnichannel landscape. Over the past year, a deluge of acquisition and collaboration deals between kit manufacturers and retailers has created a groundswell of media conversation, consumer awareness and retail distribution points for meal kit offerings. According to the latest Nielsen data, 187 new meal kit items were introduced within in-store retail outlets alone during the 52 weeks ended Dec. 29, 2018. But, as more and more meal kits come to market, is consumer demand keeping pace? Today, millions of consumers have easy access to meal kits through both online and in-store retail, and despite chatter of instability within meal kit businesses, the data shows that consumer demand is strong. Meal kit users have increased 36% over the past year. In fact, Nielsen panel data shows that 14.3 million households purchased meal kits in the last six months of 2018, reflecting a marked increase of 3.8 million households from the end of 2017. And there is still a lot more interest beyond that, with 23% of American households saying they would consider purchasing a meal kit within the next six months.