Meal Kits – Are They Back In The Big Time?
During the lockdown, shoppers were told to stay inside, work from home, and travel only when necessary. Although this may have been undesirable to some, it provided opportunity to start a new adventure in the realm of food.
People took to the kitchen as a place of escapism from the real world but it wasn’t until they got there that they realised that they didn’t know how to cook outside their three meal safety net – something that would get quite boring for months on end. With restaurants shut and home delivery slots available only once in a blue moon, people had to find a new way to shop, cook, and learn about new ingredients.
Meal Kits Found The Perfect Moment
The meal kit category faced its challenges a year ago but has resurfaced over lockdown, with companies such as Mindful Chef stating that their demand has increased by 452% since March, likely as meal kits have sought to provide something readily available in a safe and accessible way. An attractive commodity during a pandemic.
So What Are Meal Kits?
Meal kits are subscription based models whereby a box full of pre-portioned ingredients and recipe cards are sent straight to your door. So rather than going to the shop, they are a hassle free means of getting food for home cooking purposes. They also reduce the need for recipe hunting – an appealing service when trying new things.
Widening The Audience For Meal Kits
Originally targeting busy, often more affluent people pre-Covid; meal kits promised ease, flexibility, and quality ingredients. The pandemic widened this audience – becoming appealing to people who perhaps did not want to risk shopping or people who now had more time to cook. Meal kits had a number of benefits during this time, such as saving time shopping/going out, recipe hunting, reducing food waste, as well as expanding the cooking repertoire of the consumer.
Is Their New-found Popularity Sustainable?
Arguably, however, they have longer term drawbacks which in a post-pandemic world may see them losing customers. Meal kits tend to be priced at a premium compared to ready meals, they do not work for families greater than 4, they aren’t particularly environmentally friendly in terms of packaging and they often do not send food for more than only a portion of the week. Will these impede the ‘hockey stick’ growth curve the category is seeing?
HelloFresh, One Of The UK’s Greatest Meal Kit Providers, Seems To Think Not
According to a survey, 1/3 of UK Shoppers said that their food habits will be forever changed since lockdown. This seems promising for the industry, but when the hustle and bustle of life returns to ‘normal’ will meal kits hold the consumers interest when they are no longer required to home cook, when restaurants have fully opened again, or when restricted items are lifted?
The real question for meal kits is: has COVID changed the food scape forever, with new-found loyal users welcomed into the category or is this just a casual acquaintance? Only time can tell. Contact us today if you wish to continue the conversation about meal kits and their resurgence during the UK lockdown.