Ahold’s online grocery service Peapod worked with Homolka to create Skinnytaste by Peapod Chicken Cacciatore Meal Kit this fall, complete with pre-measured, pre-cut ingredients and a detailed recipe that shoppers can easily add to their online grocery cart with the click of a button.
While Peapod offers other meal kits that are created with CPG manufacturers such as ConAgra and Campbell’s Soup Co., or in-house, this is the first time the retailer has partnered with a social media influencer and predicts that the arrangement will exponentially generate consumer interest.
“We know there are a lot of our consumers who engage with Gina on her blog, and we felt like this was a great idea” to draw more attention to the convenience of Peapod’s meal kits, Sara Brown, senior manager of Midwest sales for Peapod, told FoodNavigator-USA.
She explained that Homolka’s blog and recent cookbook that launched Oct. 11 are “all around the notion of recipes that are easy, which really fits with our customer type and our goal to help make life easier and have one less chore.”
She added that the new meal kit, like the others already offered by Peapod, focus on “minimum amount of fuss and effort, and having minimal pans that need to be cleaned. … We want to make life easier for shoppers and do it in a way that is still delicious.”
The kit will feature “a lot of fresh products, including fresh red peppers and produce and chicken,” but other packaged items will be Ahold’s store brand Nature’s Promise, Brown said.
In the spirit of offering added convenience, Brown says Peapod’s kits offer the same at-home cooking experience as other meal kit services, but without the commitment of subscribing or the restriction of having the kits delivered only on certain days of the week. Rather, consumers can go online any time and order a kit and pick the delivery day, just as they would for other online food orders through the website.
Another competitive advantage for Peapod’s meal kits in general is they use far less packaging than many of the subscription services. The kits arrive in a bag that is kept cool in the refrigerated delivery truck rather than a large insulated box with cooling gel pouches and difficult-to-recycle or dispose of packing material – a major drawback for some consumers who worry about the environmental impact of meal kits.
In addition, Peapod consumers can select the same meals as often as they want – rather than being at the mercy of the meal kit subscription service’s rotating menu, Brown said. However, she acknowledged some of the seasonal kits will rotate out as the weather changes to make space for other options that are more appropriate, such as soups in the winter and lighter dishes in the summer.
“We are trying to cherrypick the best aspects of meal kits and create a selection for products that will best fit our customers,” Brown said.
A few clicks add recipe ingredients to cart
In addition to launching the new kit, Peapod also will feature several recipes from Homolka’s new cookbook on its microsite fromthepod.com.
The site was created to be an “inspiration center,” with “content that is attainable … and not super complex” to follow. But it goes beyond inspiration and actually facilitates shopping with the help of technology from Chicory, which allows consumers who see a recipe they want to try to simply click a button, enter their zip code and a list of ingredients is generated that consumers can then easily add to their cart.
The model even allows consumers to easily substitute certain ingredients, if for example they don’t like mushrooms and would rather eat eggplant in a dish, and remove from their cart ingredients that they might already have at home, such as oil, Brown explained.
Since the website launched, Peapod has seen a substantial uptick in basket size, Brown said, noting that once the ingredients for the recipe are in shoppers’ carts, many continue to add other groceries they need. In this sense, the company also believes the meal kits can serve a similar function as a “gateway” to buying other ingredients and products online, Brown said.
Looking forward, she said Peapod hopes to continue to expand the recipes available on its microsite and, depending on how the meal kit with Homolka is received, add other meal kits created in partnership with food influencers and bloggers.