You may think nothing of a box of frozen White Castle sliders or a Taco Bell dinner kit in the grocery aisle—fast-food signature dishes that shoppers can re-create at home. Yet Chick-fil-A's announcement on Monday that it will begin testing meal kits is something different altogether.
The $15.89 kits will be available at 150 Atlanta locations from late August until mid-November. These meals for two, featuring dishes such as chicken enchiladas and crispy Dijon chicken with sides like kale and roasted potatoes, aren't replicating Chick-fil-A's trademark sandwiches or other menu items.
It's not clear whether this is a marketing stunt, a test of new menu items or a serious bet on the future of meal kits. Retailers like Walmart, Kroger and Costco have put serious money behind meal kits, but Chick-fil-A is the first restaurant to do so.
Despite plenty of hype, subscription meal kits haven't seen wide adoption, but consumers do rely on ready-made food. According to Market Force, just 15% of US internet users have ever tried a subscription meal kit while 27% buy prepared food at least once a week.
The NPD Group's recently published "Future of Dinner" study predicts the rise of "blended meals" integrating prepared or restaurant food over the next five years. This trend was reinforced by a March 2018 Food Marketing Institute (FMI) study, which found most consumers (55%) typically prepare meals using hybrid items like pre-cooked meat or heat-and-serve mashed potatoes. Fewer (37%) cooked from scratch.