Beginning Oct. 26, Purple Carrot will sell three of its vegan meal kits, complete with chef-inspired recipes, detailed directions and the perfectly portioned ingredients in branded packages, at Whole Foods Market’s North Atlantic flagship location in Dedham, Mass.
The arrangement is the first time that Purple Carrot will provide its kits in a brick and mortar store and the first time that the organic-focused supermarket has offered branded meal kits like those made by Purple Carrot.
“This is an exciting space to venture into from a retail perspective as our business has always been an e-commerce one, but we feel like there has been a missing gap for consumers,” said Levitt. He explained, “We have so many fans that love our product, but we also know that they do go to the grocery store throughout the week. So for us to be able to put our product in a retail environment is another way to give access to consumers and it is also a way to reach new consumers who may not be aware of either our specific brand or the model of the subscription service in general.”
As for Whole Foods, the deal gives it another way to answer the sometimes agonizing question of what is for dinner in a novel way that gives consumers convenience, and at the same time control over what goes into their meal in a way that pre-made entrees and side dishes already available at the store do not.
The kits also feature branded ingredients available at Whole Foods so that consumers who try the kit and want to buy the individual components or make the meal again in the future can easily do so by returning to the retail outlet.
The grab-and-go kits will be curated, sourced and packed by Purple Carrot, and stocked in both the produce section and the prepared meal section at Whole Foods – giving consumers twice the chance to discover and try them, Levitt said.
To start, Purple Carrot will offer three meals: Mongolian Seitan Stir Fry, Pan Seared Tofu and Black Rice Noodles, and Cashew Korma with Cauliflower Rice. Each week one of the three meals will rotate out to make space for a new option – giving consumers a steady supply of variety and recognizable options, Levitt said.
A similar but different experience
The kits available in stores will offer consumers the same experience as the kits Purple Carrot delivers complete with chef inspired meals, step-by-step instructions and all the raw premeasured ingredients for an engaging yet convenient cooking experience at home.
However, because the ingredients are not shipped, they don’t need the heavy-duty cardboard box with insulation and gel packs that are required to protect the ingredients during Federal Express shipping. Rather, the kits available in stores will come in a streamlined, clear recyclable plastic package that allows consumers to see the individual components before they buy the kit.
“There also will be a hero image shot of what the final entrée will look like when people cook it and under that will be the images with step-by-step instructions for how people can prepare the meals and nutritional information,” Levitt said, adding, “we will also include a call to action to visit purplecarrot.com to become a subscriber.”
Another key difference between the kits sold online and in Whole Foods is that the one purchased in the brick and mortar outlet will be one meal for two people instead of the three meals for two people that are delivered with the subscription.
This diversity makes the in-store kit an easy add-on for subscribers who aren’t sure what to cook the other four nights of the week. It also lowers the barrier for entry for people who are unfamiliar with meal kits or Purple Carrot to try the experience.
The kits sold in store also are less expensive for the consumer than the subscription service at $19.99 for one meal for two people compared to $68 for three meals for two people per week.
“So, it is actually a slight discount to buy it in the individual units at Whole Foods versus being a subscriber, which might seem odd to you, but there are different unit economics at play – mainly being the shipping and packaging changes,” Levitt said. He explained that Whole Foods and Purple Carrot wanted to pass the savings from those aspects on to the consumer to help drive trial and purchase.
The arrangement is not exclusive “yet,” Levitt said. He explained that he isn’t taking it off the table that he might partner with other interested retailers, but he said he would check first with “our friends at Whole Foods.”
He also could not speak to future plans for expanding distribution beyond the one region of Whole Foods, but noted he would be interested in reaching more consumers nationwide.