Meal kits poised to eat restaurants’ lunch, study finds

The threat posed to restaurants by so-called meal kits is underscored in new research that shows where consumers will squeeze billions of dollars from their food budgets to buy the assemble-your-own dinners.

Sales of the kits—fresh, prepped ingredients shipped to consumers’ home for assembly and cooking—topped $1 billion in 2015, according to new data from Technomic, a division of the company that owns Restaurant Business. U.S. sales totaled about $400 million.

Technomic projects sales will increase to about $4 billion in the next five years, a tenfold jump.

Instead of buying the meals one at a time, consumers usually pay for a subscription—regular, automatic shipments of the kits to the customer’s home over a set period. Among consumers who said they may consider a subscription in the future, 94 percent indicated the funds would come from cutting back on other food expenditures. Forty-seven percent of those would-be subscribers said they would buy fewer delivered and takeout restaurant meals, and 37 percent reported they would dine out less often.

A majority of the necessary dollars, or 57 percent, would be redirected from grocery budgets, according to Technomic.

It terms the emerging field a “niche market” that is “disrupting food consumption norms.”

The findings are part of a new study by the Chicago researcher, the Fresh Food Subscription Study. 

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.

Multimedia

Exclusive Content

Financing

How Popeyes changed the chicken business

How did a once-struggling, regional bone-in chicken chain overtake KFC, the formerly dominant player in the U.S. market? With a fixation on sandwiches and many more new restaurants.

Financing

Get ready for a summertime value war

The Bottom Line: With more customers opting to eat at home, rather than at restaurants, more fast-food chains will start pushing value this summer.

Food

Inside Chili's quest to craft a value-priced burger that could take on McDonald's

Behind the Menu: How the casual-dining chain smashes expectations with a winning combination of familiarity and price with its new Big Smasher burger.

Trending

More from our partners