Walk your supermarket aisles, and you’ll increasingly see names that used to arrive by mail.
Last week, the new owner of Chef’d said it would shift away from its online business and focus on grocery stores and other retail outlets. Blue Apron is already in grocery stores, and Amazon is selling its meal kits at Amazon Go locations.
A new study shows a big reason that meal-kit compilers are rushing to the stores with which they once competed.
Even though restaurant spending is up, Americans are actually eating an increasing number of their meals at home, according to the NDP Group.
More than 80% of meals are being prepared at home, according to NDP’s ongoing consumer research. That’s even higher than in 1975, when 75% of meals were prepared at home.
That eat-at-home trend is a sharp contrast to statistics showing that the number of restaurants and Americans’ restaurant spending have both grown during the past 10 years.
As recently as 2015, The Washington Post was declaring “the slow death of the home-cooked meal.” But that obituary now seems to have been written too soon.
NDP says restaurant spending is up because prices are higher at restaurants, not because consumers are eating out more frequently.
“A restaurant meal has historically cost more than an in-home meal, typically as much as three times more,” the NDP report says.
Moreover, restaurants are making their food more easily available to consumers, who no longer have to go inside to sit down and eat, or collect a bag of food to go.
Restaurant delivery apps, drive-through windows and curbside delivery all have helped boost restaurant spending.
Moreover, restaurants are actually helping to boost the eat-at-home trend, thanks to what NDP calls “blended meals,” or what I like to think of as “assembled meals.”
For blended meals, consumers purchase prepared food that they’ll serve at breakfast, lunch or dinner at a restaurant, supermarket or food store.
Then, they add things from their fridge or pantry to complete the meal, and finish some of the assembly at home.
A recently published NDP study, called The Future of Dinner, predicts that these blended meals will grow over the next five years.
Already, half of all restaurant meals are purchased to eat at home, whether delivery, take out, or something that forms the centerpiece of an assembled meal.
“Due to a changing workforce, the ease of online shopping, and the boom in streaming entertainment, there are fewer reasons than ever to leave the house,” said David Portalatin, NPD Food Industry Advisor.
He’s actually bullish on opportunities for meal kit makers, grocery stores and restaurants to get their share of the eat-at-home trend.
Says Portalatin: “It’s not a matter of where consumers are eating but rather what they’re eating.”