San Francisco-based Instacart, the online grocery platform, has launched Ready Meals, available from customers’ favorite grocers as an alternative to restaurant takeout.
With Ready Meals, consumers can take a break from cooking and instead get fresh, ready-made meals delivered from the store to their door in as fast as 30 minutes.
Customers can shop hundreds of meals via the Ready Meals Hub in the Instacart App, a new in-app destination featuring prepared foods from grocers like Publix, Giant, Food Lion, Hannaford, Stop & Shop, Martin’s and Kroger. In the coming weeks, ready-made meals from ShopRite will also be featured in the Hub.
From freshly prepared grab-and-go salads and sandwiches from Publix, to soups and sushi from Kroger, to rotisserie chicken from Food Lion, customers across 35 states can now access the Ready Meals Hub to quickly get prepared meals delivered from more than 4,100 grocery stores.
The U.S. chilled and deli food market size was expected to reach more than $40 billion as of October 2021 and is projected to reach more than $108 billion by 2026, according to market analytics firm Research and Markets.
For retailers, order-ahead items and prepared foods are typically more profitable than traditional groceries like produce and packaged goods.
Additionally, according to food industry association FMI, ready-made foods can play a big part in people’s daily food prep.
FMI reported that 73 percent of meals in North America are prepared at home, but 55 percent of these meals involve a combination of prepared and from-scratch elements, and 64 percent include time-saving “ready-to-eat” items like pre-made salads and ready-to-eat meat as elements.
On the Instacart platform, customers who purchase prepared foods and catering items like hot and cold side dishes, cakes and sushi have significantly larger baskets and shop more frequently than those customers who do not.
“With our new Ready Meals Hub, we’re dishing up inspiring, more affordable and nutritious food alternatives to restaurant delivery that make it easier for consumers to break up with takeout this year. We’re also helping retailers drive more sales and increase their ‘share of stomach’ when it comes to their customers’ daily mealtime decisions,” said Daniel Danker, VP and head of product at Instacart.
“From fresh soups and salads for a quick lunch to take-and-bake casseroles, pasta dishes and meat and seafood entrees for the family dinner, we’re proud to serve as a powerful enablement partner for retailers like Publix, Giant, Food Lion, Hannaford, Stop & Shop, Martin’s and Kroger, creating new ways for them to give busy people and families across the U.S. more ways to shop smart, eat healthy and feed their cravings faster than ever before,” he said.
The launch of Ready Meals follows Instacart’s recent acquisition of FoodStorm, an SaaS order management system that powers end-to-end order-ahead and catering experiences for grocery retailers.
FoodStorm’s comprehensive SaaS offering covers multi-channel ordering – e-commerce, phone or in-store kiosk – order management, and payment and fulfillment. Its technology also integrates easily with a large variety of third-party systems including point of sale systems and offers customer relationship management capabilities that help grocers collect feedback, market their offerings and leverage promotional features.
Over the coming months, in addition to expanding FoodStorm’s technology to new partners on the Instacart Marketplace, Instacart expects to expand the Ready Meals Hub to feature several more grocers and will make Ready Meals available to more retailers through Instacart’s enterprise technology.
“Instacart’s solution to showcase prepared meal items is a win for our customers,” said Erik Katenkamp, Publix VP of omnichannel and application development.
“In addition to the convenience of being able to order freshly prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat items for rapid delivery, our customers can also include a handful of grocery staples in their rapid delivery order — making it easier than ever to grab lunch and a few items for tonight’s dinner, all in a single order,” he said.
Instacart is an online grocery platform in North America that offers shoppers same-day delivery and pickup services to bring fresh groceries and everyday essentials to busy people and families across the U.S. and Canada.
Instacart has partnered with more than 700 national, regional and local retailers, including unique brand names, to deliver from more than 65,000 stores across more than 5,500 cities in North America. Instacart’s platform is available to more than 85 percent of U.S. households and 90 percent of Canadian households.
The company’s enterprise technology also powers the e-commerce platforms of some of the world’s biggest retail players, supporting their white-label websites, applications and delivery solutions.
Instacart offers an Instacart Express membership that includes reduced service fees and unlimited free delivery on orders over $35.
For more information, visit instacart.com.