Meal Kits Deliver on Convenience and Health

Meal kits are the latest and greatest on the food-prep scene, aiming to make meal time easier, healthier, and more convenient for consumers. The kits, which can be purchased in stores or ordered online for delivery, offer pre-portioned ingredients and recipe instructions for a meal to be cooked at home. A recent Harris Poll shows 1 in 4 adults have purchased a meal kit in 2016 (25%) and 70% of meal kit purchasers are still actively purchasing meal kits.

Meal kits are hitting a mark with consumers and delivering on key convenience and health trends in the marketplace today. Among meal kit purchasers, the top reasons for buying include saving time on meal planning (46%) and the short prep and cook time (45%). Saving time is such a critical factor that even 44% of those who are no longer actively purchasing meal kits say they would consider doing so again due to the time saved on meal planning.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,015 U.S. adults aged 18+ surveyed online between December 27 and 29, 2016, including 474 who have purchased a meal kit in the past 12 months either in-store or online. Complete results of the study can be found here.

Why buy?
Rounding out the top five reasons for purchasing are saving time on grocery shopping (37%), trying new recipes (36%), and the healthy recipes (34%). A majority of active meal kit purchasers agree that meal kit dinners are healthier than prepared foods from their local grocery store. Seafood-based meals may be one of the new recipes that meal kits encourage buyers to try as two-thirds of active purchasers say they eat seafood more often when purchasing meal kits (66%).

When it comes to the contents of the meal kits, a vast majority of active purchasers appear to be very satisfied. Over 9 in 10 each say they are satisfied with the quality of the produce in their meal kits (92%) and with how the fresh meat is packaged (91%). While healthiness is clearly important, when it comes to meats, 89% of purchasers say they would be satisfied with regular (i.e., not organic) meat.

Room for improvement
While the list of benefits is lengthy, there are also areas for improvement. A majority of active purchasers are looking to feed their sweet tooth as well, with 86% saying they would add dessert to their meal kit if the option was available. Among those who have purchased previously but are no longer doing so today, nearly half say that a low cost would influence them to purchase. Over one-third would also be influenced to purchase meal kits if they were available in their local grocery store.

So is this latest entry in the food-prep scene here to stay or just a passing fad? “Consumers wanting convenience is here to stay, and providing a full-meal solution clearly meets a need for consumers. There is ample opportunity for both delivery and in-store options to capitalize on that need,” said Meagan Nelson, associate client director of Nielsen’s Fresh Growth & Strategy team.

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between December 27 and 29, 2016 among 2,015 adults aged 18+, of whom, 474 have purchased a meal kit in the past 12 months either in-store or online. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.