New Seasons Market partners with Michelin-starred chef to create meal kits
- New Seasons Market is partnering with Michelin-starred chef Matt Lightner to create meal kits for the 19-year-old grocer, according to Portland Monthly.
- The retailer's new line will only be available in nine markets across Oregon and Washington but will be available at every New Seasons Market by end of July.
- The new meal kits include Columbia River Steelhead with potatoes, broccolini, and bonito butter; miso glazed chicken with sweet potato and kale; spiced roasted carrots with tahini sauce; cauliflower pilaf with fresh turmeric and fennel; and turnip curry with lemongrass and dates.
Meal kits have teamed up with renowned chefs in the past, but New Seasons is unique among retailers in turning to a big culinary name to give it a leg up over other grocers and meal kit companies.
The move fits with the chain's gourmet natural and organic image and assortment, and likely won't go unnoticed by its foodie shoppers in Portland, Seattle and elsewhere. New Seasons recognizes this, and along with Lightner has added an educational component that teaches shoppers about each meal kits' ingredients. It's not something every retailer can do — but it's definitely something a specialty retailer like New Seasons can.
The company's ability to market Lightner's role in crafting the new meal kits will be key to its success. It could also bring in some much-needed new shoppers for the retailer, which recently saw its CEO step down and pulled back on an expansion into California.
As meal kits continue to struggle to retain customers and attract new ones, they’re ramping up marketing efforts and testing out partnerships with chefs and other unique programs. Last month, Blue Apron collaborated with Chrissy Teigen to pull recipe’s from her new cookbook, and just last week it announced a tie-up with Chef Alvin Cailan to create a line of hit TV show “Bob’s Burgers” themed meal kits.
Meal kit companies are trying to solve the big mystery of what it's going to take to keep consumers coming back. In New Seasons' case, it’s all about high-quality, healthy meals. With the steady uptick in sales of better-for-you foods, companies are attempting to drive sales by focusing on fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. All of New Season’s meal kits have organic produce, the protein is antibiotic-free and majority of the ingredients are grown locally.
By including fresh, local, premium ingredients that New Seasons already sells, the grocer is attracting the same type of consumer that shops at its stores and enjoys its products.
New Seasons' recipes have their flaws. The first round of its meal kits had incorrect cooking times and packaging caused confusion, Portland Monthly reported. The only meal kits that offer a complete meal are the chicken and steelhead — priced at $24.99 and feeds two — but the others are only side dishes or light vegetarian/vegan options- priced at $18.99 and feeds two to three.
Hiccups aside, New Seasons' meal kits offer something unique in a growing retail channel that's seeing private label as well as national brands enter the fray. Will they have enough appeal to win over new customers and inspire bigger baskets from existing ones? Only time will tell.
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