- Kroger is expanding its Easy For You! seafood options by testing out a self-service bar at stores in its hometown of Cincinnati, according to Supermarket News.
- The new serve-yourself seafood station is located near the service seafood counter. Consumers place what they want into a disposable bowl and pay by weight at checkout. Shoppers no longer need to ask a service member for help. Heat up time at home ranges from 8 to 12 minutes.
- This is the latest offering by Kroger in its quick-prep meal format. Under the Prep & Pared brand, the grocer already offers meal kits, and other seafood focused "take home and heat" options.
The Easy For You! brand is crafted to appeal to busy people who want a home cooked meal on the table at the end of the day. It helps consumers get in and out of the store faster, requires less than 15 minutes of cooking time, and there is one pan to clean afterward.
This model fits with evolving consumer demands for more value-adds when it comes to ingredients and meals, convenience, and healthy options.
Unlike with meal kit delivery companies, the consumer doesn't prep ingredients, and doesn't have to sign up for a subscription plan. The disadvantage to Kroger's model is that consumers won't have control over all the ingredients in the dish. They'll have to trust the retailer's labels.
Supervalu has a model that most closely resembles Kroger's. Its Quick & Easy Meals line encompasses three different options: fully prepared grab-and-go entrees, heat-and-eat meals, and meal kits made with pre-chopped and measured ingredients.
Competitors are actively beefing up meal kit and prepared food options as consumer demand has increased. Albertsons purchased Plated last fall, while Walmart joined the fray by offering meal kits from third-party providers on its website. Online meal kit companies, meanwhile, are offering faster-prep meals and innovative new recipes focused on regional cuisine, global flavors and more.
Becoming a meal destination for consumers is an important part of Kroger's Restock plan. With its prepared food innovations and its own line of Prep + Pared meal kits, the retailer is offering more options for its shoppers. But can it overcome fierce competition from other grocers and online competitors? The company will have to rely on its strengths, including its ability to mine consumer data and personalize offerings by store and by region.
If it can deliver on flavor, price and convenience, Kroger will succeed in getting its many loyal customers to spend more of their meal dollars in stores.