Following its $200 million acquisition of meal kit startup Plated last fall, grocery chain Albertsons announced this week it would roll out Plated’s meal kits to hundreds of stores by the end of 2018. The meal kits will also be made available for 2-hour delivery through Instacart, same-day and scheduled home delivery, and for in-store pickup through Albertsons Companies Drive Up and Go service.

This is the first public integration between Plated and the grocer following the acquisition, which was meant to give the chain an edge in competing with rivals in the online grocery market. With the rise of meal kit services, like Blue Apron, consumers have less need to visit grocery stores to purchase their recipe ingredients. In addition, many grocers are reacting to the threat posed by Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, which allows it to offer pickup and delivery, as well as traditional grocery shopping.

Plated is not the first meal kit to find its way to stores. Kroger also entered the meal kit business last year, and Blue Apron in March announced plans to start selling its kits in stores, too, as did Weight Watchers. Amazon has been selling meal kits on its site, and Walmart just launched its own meal kits and other quick dinner options, too. Walmart says these kits will reach 2,000 stores by year-end.

Albertsons says the meal kits will continue to roll out across the U.S. in the months ahead. By the end of 2018, Plated kits will be available a select Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market and Haggen locations nationwide.

They’ll also become available for in-store pickup and delivery, including through Instacart, in the months ahead.

At launch, a limited selection of meal kits will be offered at the participating stores. A half-dozen of Plated’s most popular kits will be available for sale, including:

  • Crunchy Chicken Milanese with Honey Mustard and Arugula
  • Roasted Chicken au Jus with Orzo and Peas
  • Beef Noodle Bowls with Dinosaur Kale and Mushrooms
  • Steak Frites with Creamy Shallot Sauce and Sautéed Spinach
  • Skillet Grandma Pie with Parmesan-Kale Salad
  • Pine Nut–Crusted Salmon with Creamy Tomato Farro and Roasted Green Beans

This is a small selection, given Plated to date has created 2,200 recipes. However, Albertsons says the meal choices will rotate seasonally to offer variety, and the in-store kits will always include recipes with beef, chicken, seafood and vegetarian options.

With so many meal kits available today for home delivery and, increasingly, in stores, Albertsons hopes to differentiate itself on taste and quality. Plated’s meals are created by a culinary team led by a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, Elana Karp, it notes. And with the option to take delivery when you choose, or grab a kit at a store, Albertsons’ meal kits could appeal to a broader market than meal kit subscriptions do which are often pricy and require an ongoing commitment.

“This is the next big step in our journey to enable everyone to enjoy fresh, delicious meals. We’ve
delivered millions of meals to Americans through our acclaimed subscription service, and now we’ll be
able to meet and serve millions of new customers with an entirely new level of convenience,” said Josh
Hix, Co-founder and CEO of Plated, in a statement. “Since partnering with Albertsons Companies last year, we’ve
accelerated our growth and are thrilled to bring an elevated culinary experience to more people in more
ways. Today we’re announcing that in addition to our subscription offering, customers near hundreds of
Albertsons Companies stores will be able to pick up last-minute or order online for on demand delivery.”

While Albertsons’ acquisition of a meal kit startup was a first for a national grocery chain, it’s becoming clear that meal kit options are becoming a baseline for grocery competitors across the board as they prepare to battle with the likes of Amazon and Walmart, Blue Apron and more.

Image credits: Albertsons

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