- Kroger is expanding its Easy For You! customizable meals line, a company spokeswoman told Food Dive. The program, which launched in Seattle in 2016, lets shoppers add seasonings to fresh seafood, then take it home in a sealed, oven-safe bag that includes heating instructions.
- Earlier this year, Kroger introduced Easy For You! self-service stations that include frozen seafood and meat selections along with sides. Shoppers add the selections they want, bring it home and heat for 8 to 12 minutes. There are between 12 and 18 selections at each station, priced at $7.99 per pound. Popular selections include shrimp scampi, prime rib with mushroom gravy, and macaroni and cheese, according to the spokeswoman.
- Easy For You! selections are available at 350 stores, with plans to expand to more locations.
Kroger dug into the meal kit category earlier this year with its $200 million acquisition of Home Chef. But the company knows that it needs more than just those trendy kits to appeal to meal-seeking shoppers.
The grocer’s Easy For You! fresh seafood program offers convenience, personalization and adds value to selections such as salmon, catfish and crab. Shoppers can choose from a dozen different seasonings — including lemon pepper, sweet bourbon and rosemary garlic — to be added to their selection, then sealed up for heating later on.
The do-it-yourself service stations offer another dimension of customizable meal preparation. Shoppers can build a full meal at the case, then feel like they’re preparing everything fresh at home. Some might be put off by all the frozen food, but research shows people are warming up to frozen meals and innovations in freezing technology.
Many shoppers still prefer to visit the hot bar or grab a packaged meal — and Kroger offers those, too. It’s all about adding choice while also providing offerings that are unique to the company.
Meal offerings are a key part of Kroger's growth strategy. When the company unveiled its Restock Kroger plan a year ago, CEO Rodney McMullen said the grocery giant wants to become a dining destination — whether for in-store or take-home options — and build share of stomach with consumers.
“If you’re eating, we want to serve you, and unless it’s dinner at a white tablecloth restaurant, that’s a meal we should be able to provide to you,” he said at the time.
Research shows that many Americans are spending more time eating at home and also reducing the amount of time they spend cooking. That's a great opportunity for Kroger — but it isn't the only retailer that sees this. Other grocers are responding, with many now offering meal kits in-store and experimenting with their own versions. Albertsons acquired Plated, Costco partnered with Blue Apron, HelloFresh will now be available at Stop & Shop, and Publix introduced Dinner Kits.
However these pre-prepped options are marketed and packaged — whether they're meal kits, heat-and-eat, or ready-to-go options — it’s clear that consumers want to have fresh, wholesome meals without having to go to all the work of traditional home cooking. From in-store to out of it, Kroger is making sure it has a hand in all the ways people want to eat.