Brief

Southern Living serves up its own line of RTE meals

Dive Brief:

  • Time Inc.'s Southern Living brand is rolling out a line of RTE meals called Southern Living Kitchen in select H-E-B, Kroger, Schnucks and Market Street stores on April 24, according to Media Post. The line will also be sold on AmazonFresh. 

  • The meals are inspired by Southern comfort food and readers' favorite Southern Living recipes, like smoked pulled pork with gouda mac n' cheese, and will sell for $5.99-$7.99. 

  • Houston-based Perfect Fit Meals, which also makes meals sponsored by Time Inc. publication Cooking Light, will manufacture Southern Living's RTE meals. 

Dive Insight:

The meal kit trend was once predicted to be an expensive fad, but growing numbers of manufacturers, retailers, celebrities and publications are racing to gobble up their share of this tasty — and lucrative — market. 

According to a recent Harris Poll, 25% of adults bought a meal kit in 2016, and 70% of meal kit purchasers have continued to buy them. Meal kits are proving to be a chief disrupter in today's food space, meeting consumer desire for premium ingredients, exotic flavor profiles and convenience. Still, the high prices of these kits could prove detrimental once their novelty dies down. 

While the cost doesn't sound like a great deal of money, it's still more than double what many consumers spend to prepare an eat-at-home meal. However, if meal kits continue to grow more popular, greater volume may allow for some price trimming.

Some meal kit companies, including Purple Carrot, offer discounts to new customers to get their foot in the door and their meals on the table. Others like Blue Apron offer “try us” offers with free meals. 

Southern Living's partnership with AmazonFresh and other major retailers will likely spur more grocers to enter the meal kit space, either through similar partnerships or by launching their own branded lines. These meals build off of the Southern Living lifestyle brand, which largely focuses on Southern-style cooking. And because they are RTE offerings, the home cook has to do minimal work.

As meal kit variety proliferates, it will be interesting to see if demand wanes. For now, these meals can be seen as a time-saving way to try to get what is branded as authentic down-home cooking on the table.

Filed Under: Manufacturing Corporate Marketing