Offering convenience for those who like to feel they are cooking for their family has long been a challenge. One initially driven by Cooking Sauces and more recently by the development of Meal Kits, a trend with its roots in the ambient sector with various Mexican Kits. We used to test 1 or 2 a year. Last year we tested 20.
The category average is relatively high and Kits are now available in a range of sweet and savoury categories. Away from the supermarkets we have seen suppliers of direct to home meal kits grow from small beginnings to become one of the fastest-growing categories of on-line shopping, boosted in part by the desire for convenience, but also those other twin drivers of innovation and health. Buyers of kits are attracted to the variety available and the fact the ingredients come ready weighed, which helps with portion control. Retailers have been quick to capitalise on this trend. Some, such as Morrisons, launched their own home delivery service (Eat Fresh), while most now offer various own label and branded in-store kits. Price can be a barrier, particularly if other ingredients such a protein and vegetables are needed to complete the meal. Recent chilled additions to the market aim to rectify this with kits containing all the components required. This month we tested an intriguing Soup Kit from Pureety Made at Home: a fresh, quality, product but “not quick and easy like soup should be" and a popular vegetarian kit from Asda that offered a speedy and healthy midweek meal solution.
Meanwhile suppliers are coming under increasing pressure to improve their on-pack information. Not only to avoid labelling factory made foods as ‘artisan’ but for better eco labelling to show the carbon footprint on pack to encourage low-carbon choices. And you can tell that Easter is around the corner, with increased innovation in the bakery and confectionery sectors. Aldi has combined the two with its Hot Cross Bun flavoured Fudge: inevitably very sweet, but a fun Easter gift.