Five ways Kroger’s innovating with meal solutions

Date : 27 October 2018

With the acquisition of Chicago-based Mariano’s in 2015, and the development of the now-closed Main & Vine concept store, Kroger has significantly enhanced its prepared foods and food-to-go capabilities. We recently visited one of its Cincinnati area stores to see how it's driving its offer forward.

Branded partnerships

In addition to its in-house developed hot food brands, Kroger is testing branded partnerships. At this store, and five others, it has partnered with Eli’s BBQ. This is a locally-based chain which enables Kroger to offer a more relevant offer within the catchment area and benefit from its loyal customer following.

Source: IGD Research

Order ahead

Kroger is also testing hot food ordering. It has developed the ‘Kroger Fresh’ app which enables customers to order ahead, and pick-up in-store. Customers can also use the app to order deli meats and cheeses. With Kroger’s counters seeing high levels of traffic around lunchtime and in the early evening, this app helps to deliver an improved customer experience.

Source: IGD Research

Home Chef meal kits

The retailer has recently launched its Home Chef meal kits. Kroger acquired Home Chef in a $200m deal earlier this year. Although Kroger had developed its own range of kits, Prep & Pared, in-house, the acquisition has enabled Kroger to accelerate its progress in this area. The retailer has introduced a rotating range of meals. It is also undertaking a limited test of a new Home Chef Express range. This is a quick-cook meal kit, enabling dishes to be ready in around 15 minutes.

Source: IGD Research

Easy For You frozen meals solution

Complementing its hot food-to-go and Home Chef kits is the Easy For You range of frozen meals. This is a range of heat and serve flash-frozen dishes. Products include coconut turmeric rice, mushroom truffle risotto and shrimp and sausage boil. They are sold by weight in a bulk format. Customers can choose from two sizes of tubs, scooping the required amount. The dishes can be ready in 8 to 12 minutes, simply heating in a skillet on a medium heat. This is a relatively unique concept within the grocery store environment, providing customers with an easy meal solution, which can also be stored for some time at home.

Source: IGD Research

Meal ideas merchandising

In several areas of the store, Kroger was grouping together the relevant ingredients for a one-pot meal. Not only does this provide shoppers with suggestions for an easy dinner, but also makes it convenient to shop.

Source: IGD Research

Chasing opportunities in food away from home

Kroger signalled its intent in this area with the launch of its ‘Restock Kroger’ strategic plan last year. This identified how it plans to redefine the grocery store experience, with meal solutions being a key part of this. The retailer is aiming to capture opportunities in food away from home. Last year, the retailer also launched Kitchen 1883, its first standalone restaurant concept.

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