CINCINNATI - The Kroger Co. is phasing out production of its home-grown meal kit product, Prep + Pared, as it rolls out a similar product from Home Chef, a Chicago-based company that Kroger acquired in May.
Kroger is launching Home Chef meal kits in 200 stores in the Midwest, the company announced yesterday. Cincinnati-area stores will see a new product called Home Chef Express, which can be prepared in 15 minutes – as opposed to 30 to 60 minutes for other Home Chef products.
When Kroger agreed to pay up to $700 million for the nation’s largest privately held meal kit maker, it said Home Chef’s offerings would complement the Prep + Pared meal kits that were already being sold in more than 500 Kroger stores.
But now, the company has confirmed that Home Chef will replace Prep + Pared.
“We’re taking a portfolio approach to our in-store meal solutions to make sure we have the right mix of products to meet our customers’ needs,” said Kroger spokeswoman Kristal Howard. “We are in the process of rebranding the 15-minute Prep + Pared solution as Home Chef Express.”
It’s the second time in a month that Kroger has modified its home-grown branding strategies for national rollouts. In late September, Kroger announced it was phasing out the ClickList brand name in favor of more descriptive terminology for its home-delivery and in-store pickup options.
The Home Chef rollout is more than just a name change. It is a different approach to meal-kit menus, with four rotating meal options per week finding their way into Kroger stores in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio. Additional menu items can be ordered online for home delivery. The meals, which serve two people, cost $17 to $20 apiece.
"Offering a rotating menu of recipes is one more way we are providing our customers with innovative culinary experiences and choices,” said Robert Clark, Kroger’s senior vice president of purchasing, in a press release. “The Home Chef meal kits will redefine the way customers shop for, prep, and cook their meals."
The shifting strategy means Kroger vendor FreshRealm will lose at least part of the meal kit work it’s been doing for the company. Kroger spokeswoman Erin Rolfes said FreshRealm is “still somewhat involved with Home Chef” and no jobs will be lost. FreshRealm did not return emails seeking additional information.