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Matthew Pratta, Sprouts Farmers Market culinary director

Here’s what’s driving the meal program at Sprouts

Health, quality, convenience

Sprouts executives recently told analysts that deli was the fastest-growing category in 2022, and that the company was becoming more efficient in its deli strategy. After testing a prototype with a larger space dedic.pngMatthew Pratta and his culinary team have been on a mission to elevate the meal offerings at Sprouts Farmers Market, and their influence is seen across the store, from the deli to the meat and seafood departments.

A graduate of culinary school Johnson & Wales University, Pratta joined the Phoenix-based chain in 2017 after a stint overseeing foodservice operations at Kroger Co. and previous posts at Whole Foods Market and in the supplier and restaurant sectors.

A key area of focus for Pratta and his team at Sprouts has been expanding and elevating the convenience meals offering, which is heavily influenced by the chain’s overall ethos around healthy and natural foods.

“We are really focused on better-for-you choices for our customers, and we are doubling down on flexitarian choices,” said Pratta, who said the company also seeks to offer dishes that appeal to specific diets, such a paleo, keto and gluten-free. “Our customers are aligned with this, and they are excited about the menu offerings.”

Also influencing menu development at Sprouts are consumer demands for crave-able and globally influenced flavors.

Recent examples include a heat-and-eat Red Miso Salmon dish, featuring a sous-vide cooked piece of salmon, with fresh-roasted sweet potatoes, garlic green beans and a red miso condiment, and a ready-to-cook Black Truffle Beef Sauté with a house-made marinade, mushrooms, and asparagus — a one-pan meal that customers have responded to “in a big way,” said Pratta.

Meal kits have also emerged as important category, with offerings such as the Gyro Family Meal, which includes fresh-cut produce, pitas, sauces and heat-and-eat gyro meat.

“We put a lot of focus on heat and eat, dishes that you can prepare in the microwave or in the oven,” said Pratta.

Sprouts partners with some vendors to procure partially prepared items for its convenience-meal offerings but focuses extensively on store-level assembly and plating of meals, he said.

“We work hard to find the right partners that really understand our vision for convenience meals,” Pratta said. “Where it matters the most for the customer, we are making sure that fabrication happens in house. We roast our own vegetables in the stores, and that’s a great example of how important we think it is to get the freshest food possible out to our customer.”

Sprouts Farmers MarketSprouts_meal_kit_gyro_feta_tzatziki_02_JPG.Jpg

A Sprouts gyro meal kit.

Meeting customer expectations for quality is always a challenge in a multi-unit chain, as is ensuring consistency across locations, he said.

“It takes our vendor partners, it takes our team members, and it takes our merchant teams and operators,” said Pratta. “It’s a beautiful symphony of everybody doing their part to bring a higher-quality prepared or convenience meal to life.”

A key area of focus this year for Pratta and his team will be ensuring that Sprouts has a variety of vegetable-centric dishes for flexitarian customers to choose from. 

“For example, we do a beautiful roasted brussels sprout in the stores, but how do we bring that more to the center of the plate? That’s what we are challenging ourselves with now,” he said. “I think there’s a real opportunity there, among some of the other great things we have in store for our customers this year.”


This profile is part of our 2023 SN Foodservice at Retail Innovators — brands and people doing amazing things in grocery foodservice and prepared foods. Keep on the lookout for more profiles to come. 

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