After making their debut at Kroger Co. stores in the fall, Home Chef meal kits are slated to become available at another 500 supermarkets, including six more retail banners, by the end of this month.
Kroger said Wednesday that its Home Chef subsidiary also has come out with a first among leading meal-kit brands: a customizable meal kit for online orders. Called Customize It, the offering enables HomeChef.com customers to change and upgrade recipe ingredients, providing more flexibility in choosing meals, according to the Cincinnati-based supermarket giant.
"Kroger continues to redefine the customer experience and provide new ways to shop for, prep and cook meals through exciting brick-and-mortar and digital experiences," Robert Clark, senior vice president of merchandising at Kroger, said in a statement. "Last October, Kroger introduced Home Chef retail meal kits, and we're now expanding to add the easy-to-prepare recipes to hundreds of new locations, providing convenient access to the meal solution at more than 700 stores.”
The latest Home Chef rollout will bring the meal kits to Fry's and Smith's stores in Arizona; Ralphs supermarkets in California; King Soopers locations in Colorado; Smith’s stores in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming; Fred Meyer and QFC locations in Oregon and Washington; and Kroger banner stores in Indiana, Texas, Ohio (Columbus) and Tennessee (Nashville).
Kroger Co.’s first store banners to carry Home Chef meal kits included Mariano’s in Illinois; Pick 'n Save and Metro Market in Wisconsin; and Kroger in Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio (Cincinnati). In December, the company also launched Home Chef Express meal kits at 65 Walgreens stores in the Chicago area as part of a partnership with Walgreens Boots Alliance.
“We look forward to the continued growth of Home Chef in 2019 through expansion and new products,” Clark added.
Focusing on simple recipes, Home Chef meal kits contain pre-portioned ingredients and serve two people, at a starting price of $8.50 per serving. The meal varieties rotate weekly and include Home Chef Express meal kits, which can be prepared in 15 minutes or less. Meal kits are also available for pickup and delivery at participating stores.
"Home Chef is proud to continue our evolution toward becoming more than a meal kit delivery brand," said Pat Vihtelic, founder and CEO of Chicago-based Home Chef, which was acquired by Kroger in May 2018. "With continued innovation and personalization, we are providing customers with more ways to enjoy fresh, delicious meals that align with their individual tastes."
HomeChef.com’s new Customize It feature lets customers personalize many of their favorite recipes by swapping, doubling or upgrading ingredients. The company noted that the program adds more variety to its menu, which also includes no-cook 5-Minute Meals plus add-ons such as fresh smoothies.
"Our customers asked for more ways to customize their Home Chef meals, and we listened," according to Vihtelic. "We are excited to be the first leading meal-kit company to introduce these new Customize It choices for everyone seeking the same great Home Chef meals with even more variety and choices."