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Nielsen data shows that the in-store meal kit market grew 26.5% in the last year to $154.6 million.

Make room for Weight Watchers

Company will enter the meal kit business later this year

Weight Watchers International will be joining the crowded meal kit market this year with the launch of the WW Healthy Kitchen collection, which includes healthy and fresh quick-prep meal kits to be available at grocery retailers. The company will officially launch the WW Healthy Kitchen initiative at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago beginning this weekend.

Weight Watchers is working with fresh food industry innovator FreshRealm LLC to develop and roll out fresh and convenient, quick-prep meal kits and individual products to retail in the second half of 2018.

"There has been a shift in what people demand as it relates to the food they consume; people are busier so they want convenience, but they also desire fresh foods — whether they are on-the-go or at home with their family," said Michael Lippold, founder and CEO of FreshRealm. "We're working closely with WW to deliver on all these points with a distinguished product line of healthy and delicious quick-prep meals."

In addition to meal kits, the WW Healthy Kitchen campaign includes a partnership with Gibson Overseas to develop a new collection of branded kitchen tools and products and WW Freestyle-inspired recipes curated by acclaimed chef and brand ambassador Eric Greenspan.

But it’s the introduction of meal kits into an already well-populated market that’s creating the most retail buzz. The news comes three days after Walmart announced plans to sell its own line of meal kits at 2,000 stores nationwide by the end of this year, while Albertsons and Amazon both entered the fray last year.

But the company most likely to feel reverberations from WW Healthy Kitchen is Blue Apron, which helped pioneer the meal kit industry and saw its shares slip as much as 2.8%, to $2.42, after yesterday’s announcement, according to Crain’s, dropping to their lowest intraday price since their initial public offering in June.

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