The Kroger Company, the nation’s largest pure-play grocer, announced Friday (Sept. 15) a partnership with Performance Kitchen, a company that creates “medically tailored meals” for delivery, to create frozen, heat-and-eat meals for people with various health conditions.
“We believe in empowering people with resources to help them make healthy choices that will deliver the best outcomes for them,” said James Kirby, chief commercial officer of Kroger Health. “Offering [these meals] allows us an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to supporting individuals on their wellness journeys, while providing a personalized approach to help them transform their health.”
Already, Kroger sells virtual appointments with dietitians. By getting involved in nutrition counseling and touting these meals’ health benefits, Kroger inserts itself into the views of consumers with dietary restriction or concerns who are figuring out what they will eat, encouraging heavier reliance on the grocer in these shoppers’ meal-planning routines.
Similarly, Albertsons Companies — which is in the process of being acquired by Kroger — announced Thursday (Sept. 14) that it is upgrading the Meal Plans and Recipes available on its various banners’ apps and websites, which offer shoppable content that consumers can filter according to their dietary needs.
The company added a budget tracking tool, calculating the cost of each meal and subtracting it from the amount allotted by the customer and offering insight into cost per serving. The grocer also included a “cooking mode,” which enables consumers to navigate the digital platform without touching their devices while they are getting messy in the kitchen.
“This all-in-one tool empowers the everyday home cook to plan, shop and prepare inspiring recipes without the added expense or commitment of a meal delivery service,” Jill Pavlovich, the grocer’s senior vice president of digital customer experience, said in a statement. “Our Meal Plans tool offers greater versatility as price-conscious families can plan a week’s worth of flavorful meals based on their budget.
By offering these comprehensive meal-planning tools, Albertsons encourages reliance on its digital platforms, driving loyalty and omnichannel engagement.
In fact, PYMNTS Intelligence would suggest that consumers are open to food inspiration and recommendations on digital platforms. The latest installment of PYMNTS’ “Consumer Inflation Sentiment Report,” titled “Consumers Know What AI Is — Not How It’s Integrated Into Their Daily Lives,” drew from a survey of more than 2,300 U.S. consumers in August and found that 58% of participants had received recommendations from a food delivery service powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
Grocers are not the only ones looking to make their offerings essential to consumers’ meal planning routines. Third-party aggregator Instacart, for its part, announced in May that it was combining its own AI and data with OpenAI‘s ChatGPT technology to roll out Ask Instacart, a search feature designed to provide suggestions and answers to questions.
The tool offers recommendations on food pairings, suggested ingredient swaps, advice about cooking techniques, ingredient lists, different kinds of meals, information about which foods comply with various dietary restrictions and more.