There are three varieties of the Urban Roots kit that have been launched, all themed around riced cauliflower: Chili Cilantro Cauliflower Rice, Tabouli Style Cauliflower Rice, and Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower Rice for $6.99 to $7.99 each.
Instead of jumping on the home delivery subscription bandwagon, the company is putting these meal kits in the coolers of grocery stores, as well as on third party food delivery services such as Freshdirect, FoodKick, and Jet.com, said Ben Walker, senior director at Baldor Specialty Foods.
New York City area independent grocery retailers as well as Eataly comprise the list of brick-and-mortar retailers carrying the meal kits, and Walker said he expects this list to continue to grow.
“Home cooking shouldn’t require a subscription,” according to the Urban Roots website. The company believes that cooking can be effortless even without a subscription or extra costs. “That’s why we’re available at your grocery store.”
An evolution from cut fresh vegetables
Starting as a fruit stand in Greenwich Village back in 1946 under the name Balducci’s Produce, the Baldor division split off in 1991 to gain more market share in the wholesale market.
Today it is one of the largest importers and distributors of fresh produce and specialty foods in the region, supplying white tablecloth restaurants, hotels, upscale food markets, in-flight caterers, and more.
“Baldor has had a retail and fresh cuts division for over 10 years now,” Walker told FoodNavigator-USA “We mostly produced standard value added products like cut butternut squash and carrot sticks. We saw an opportunity to take our product to the next level and we think we are on to something.”
Demand for fresh produce that’s easy to prepare has been climbing. Data from Nielsen indicated that value-added vegetables—think pre-cut vegetables and salad bags—grew with a compounded annual growth rate of 15% in the years 2011-2015.
The Urban Roots concept also taps into the home chef trend, catalyzed by the booming meal kit subscription market. It’s a space in which big industry players like Campbell Soup and Coca-Cola are investing. Even grocery retailers are getting in on the game, with Albertsons’ recently snapping up Plated.
Convenience isn’t just prepared food or frozen
Also on the rise is the ‘grocerant,’ where consumers come to the grocery store and dine at the prepared food section. But Walker argued that what the grocerant has in convenience, it lacks in giving consumers an experience.
“Our Veggie Side Kits deliver from a scratch level of freshness while giving the joy of cooking to our consumers,” he said. “Urban Roots Veggie Side Kits come ready-to-use, so you can cook like a chef without the prep time or mess.
“Our recipes highlight peak season produce for simple, delicious home-cooking with no compromises. Very different than a prepared meal that’s peak freshness could have been days ago. Our kits are at its peak seconds before being consumed.”