What's In Store

Fresh Market expands into the meal-kit business

Courtesy of Fresh Market
Courtesy of Fresh Market

Fresh Market has branched out into the increasingly popular meal kit craze.

The Greensboro-based specialty grocer’s “Little Big Meal” program launched this week. The grocer said in a statement that all of its 176 stores have a display for each kit. The kits, which sell for $25 or less, include pre-packaged fresh ingredients for a variety of make-at-home meals (like easy enchiladas and chicken al fresco) for four people.

Meal kits are increasingly popular trend for busy consumers who still want freshly made meals. Meal-kit makers like Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Plated and Purple Carrot all cater specifically to customers who would rather spend their time on something other than grocery shopping.

Offering meal kits is a growing trend among traditional grocers like Whole Foods as well – and experts say it’s a way they are trying to stay competitive. Traditional grocers have increased sales of meal kits by 7 percent since March of last year, according to Morningstar.

The research firm projects that by 2021, nearly 19 million Americans will place meal kit orders online.

Fresh Market commands a small (less than 1 percent) portion of Charlotte’s grocery-store industry by market share, according to sales-tracking firm Chain Store Guide. The grocer opened its sixth Charlotte-area location in Dilworth in 2015, and last year, it was bought by New York private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $1.36 billion.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta