Meal Kits Making Their Mark

Consumers praise growing dinner option for its time-saving, health benefits

NEW YORK -- The meal-kit market continues to proliferate and gain more traction among foodservice consumers. A recent survey by Harris Poll shows that 25% of adults purchased a meal kit, with preportioned ingredients and recipe instructions for a meal to be cooked at home, in 2016 and 70% of these meal-kit purchasers are still actively buying meal kits.

Meal-kit consumers pointed to the convenience and time-saving benefits provided by the kits, which can be purchased in a store or ordered online for delivery. The top reasons given for buying a meal kit included “saving time on meal planning” (46%) and “the short prep and cook time” (45%).

The time-saving attribute was a strong purchase driver, even among consumers who were no longer buying meal kits; 44% of these consumers say that they would consider buying another meal kit due to the time they saved on meal planning.

Rounding out the top five reasons for purchasing are saving time on grocery shopping (37%), trying new recipes (36%) and the healthy recipes (34%). A majority of active meal-kit purchasers agree that meal-kit dinners are healthier than prepared foods from their local grocery store. Seafood-based meals may be one of the new recipes that meal kits encourage buyers to try, as two-thirds of active purchasers say they eat seafood more often when purchasing meal kits (66%).

When it comes to the contents of the meal kits, a vast majority of active purchasers appear to be very satisfied. More than nine in 10 each say they are satisfied with the quality of the produce in their meal kits (92%) and with how the fresh meat is packaged (91%). While healthiness is clearly important, when it comes to meats, 89% of purchasers say they would be satisfied with regular (i.e., not organic) meat.

Consumers also emphasized areas of improvement for meal kits. A majority of active purchasers are looking to feed their sweet tooth as well, with 86% saying they would add dessert to their meal kit if the option was available. Among those who have purchased previously but are no longer doing so today, nearly half say that a low cost would influence them to purchase. Over one-third would also be influenced to purchase meal kits if they were available in their local grocery store.

"Consumers wanting convenience are here to stay, and providing a full-meal solution clearly meets a need for consumers. There is ample opportunity for both delivery and in-store options to capitalize on that need," said Meagan Nelson, associate client director of Nielsen's Fresh Growth & Strategy team.

This Harris Poll was conducted online in the United States between Dec. 27-29, 2016, among 2,015 adults aged 18 or older, of whom, 474 have purchased a meal kit in the past 12 months either in-store or online.

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