Dinner On The Go: Walmart Expands Meal Kit To More Stores

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Walmart Inc. said Monday that it is launching meal kits at more than 2,000 of its stores this year.

Given the massive scope of Walmart's grocery business, the meals could depress sales at restaurant chains if shoppers may choose to grab a quick and cheap dinner from Walmart.

Walmart's first exposure was in offering meal kits from third-party companies - California-based Takeout Kit and Chicago-based Home Chef - on its website beginning late past year.

Some meal kits are created to be used with rotisserie chickens - like Thai curry chicken and chicken fried rice - and some can be heated up and on the table in less than 15 minutes: pot roast, cheesy ravioli bake and chicken marsala.

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The kits are made and assembled daily in-store and cost between $8 and $15 each. The company also is introducing four $15 meal-kit options in stores, expanding a business that had previously only been offered online through outside vendors. Meal kit recipes include, steak dijon and sweet chili chicken. "We're here to help", said Tyler Lehr, senior vice president and general merchandise manager, Deli Services, Walmart U.S.

Meal-kit sales have grown to about $5 billion a year, according to a report from market research firm Packaged Facts, and the industry has been led by startups like Blue Apron and HelloFresh. In fact, these programs require the subscription, because frequent purchases are required for supplying the necessary items. Kroger has been offering its own brand of meal kits in some stores as well.

Walmart is rolling out meal kits.

"It's no big secret that they are offered in other retailers, and we have looked at them previously, but we were not thrilled with quality levels", he said.