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Albertsons, Plated launch national retail rollout

“Hundreds of stores” to offer meal kits by year’s end

Plated meal kits are set to be rolling out to supermarket banners of parent Albertsons Cos. in a big way.

The companies said Thursday that they expect “hundreds of stores” nationwide to be selling the meal kits by the end of 2018, compared with 40 stores in two large metropolitan markets currently.

Also with the national rollout, New York-based Plated aims to give Albertsons Cos. customers more ways to get the meal kits. That is slated to include delivery in as soon as two hours via Instacart, online ordering for same-day and scheduled home delivery, and in-store pickup through Albertsons’ Drive Up & Go click-and-collect service.

So far, Plated meal kits are available in 20 Safeway stores in northern California and 20 Jewel-Osco stores in the Chicago area. By the year’s end, the kits should be available in select Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, and Haggen stores around the country.

“This is the next big step in our journey to enable everyone to enjoy fresh, delicious meals. We’ve delivered millions of meals to Americans through our acclaimed subscription service, and now we’ll be able to meet and serve millions of new customers with an entirely new level of convenience,” Plated chief executive officer and co-founder Josh Hix said in a statement. “Since partnering with Albertsons Cos. last year, we’ve accelerated our growth and are thrilled to bring an elevated culinary experience to more people in more ways. Today, we’re announcing that in addition to our subscription offering, customers near hundreds of Albertsons Cos. stores will be able to pick up last-minute or order online for on-demand delivery.”

Plated provides an online store locator to help customers find nearby locations offering the meal kits.

“We are excited to have Plated meal kits in our stores. Plated’s culinary expertise allows us to offer customers, premium-quality, chef-designed recipes for amazing meals they can prepare at home,” said Pat Brown, group vice president for merchandising and strategic initiatives at Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos. “Plated is not just a meal kit; it’s a culinary experience. That’s what sets us apart. Our customers learn new techniques and can experiment with delicious and culturally diverse recipes.”

For the national retail rollout, Plated initially will offer six meal kits that incorporate some of its current customers’ favorite dishes. In-store meal kit options will include beef, chicken, vegetarian and seafood recipes. The ingredients are pre-measured and portioned for simple cooking at home with no food waste, according to Plated. Recipes are crafted by Plated’s culinary team, led by Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Elana Karp.

Meals now available for in-store purchase include crunchy chicken milanese with honey mustard and arugula; roasted chicken au jus with orzo and peas; beef noodle bowls with dinosaur kale and mushrooms; steak frites with creamy shallot sauce and sautéed spinach; skillet grandma pie with parmesan-kale salad; and pine nut-crusted salmon with creamy tomato farro and roasted green beans.

Since launching in 2012, Plated has developed more than 2,200 recipes. The company said its online subscription service offers the most variety in the category, with 20 meal choices per week plus two dessert options.

Hix said that less than 20% of U.S. consumers have tried a meal kit, which translates into a “tremendous opportunity” for Plated and Albertsons Cos., which acquired the meal service company in September.

That opportunity ostensibly could include Rite Aid Corp. stores, according to recent remarks by Albertsons Cos. chairman and CEO Bob Miller.

 “We’re particularly excited about our recent acquisition of Plated, the meal kit service. We’ve already seen encouraging growth online and in the stores where we rolled out the Plated offering and plan to introduce it to 60 more locations soon,” Miller told analysts in a Feb. 20 conference call on the Albertsons Cos.-Rite Aid merger deal. “We see big upside potential in this business, including by offering Plated meal kits in Rite Aid stores.” The merger transaction is expected to close early in the second half of 2018, pending approval of Rite Aid shareholders and regulators.

Miller said in the call that Plated’s growth had climbed 50% year over year. “The in-store offering will be in more than 650 premium stores by the end of fiscal year 2018,” he added. “We expect to double the Plated subscription base and revenue for fiscal year 2018.”

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