Loblaw has developed a “meal solutions” team to expand the company’s meal-kit offering.
The story about the move was first reported by The Logic last week after coming across a handful of online job postings.
Asked about that story, Loblaw’s senior director of external communications Catherine Thomas confirmed to Canadian Grocer that it was looking to expand its meal kit group after introducing its PC Chef meal kit offering earlier this year.
“At 4 p.m. most days, the vast majority of Canadians don’t know what they’re having for dinner,” she wrote in an email. “We believe we are uniquely capable of helping them solve that problem.”
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Aside from being the largest grocery business in Canada, Loblaw has the distinct advantage over Metro and Empire of having a large dataset of its consumers thanks to the PC Optimum rewards program.
The Logic suggested the new team would be largely driven by data based on some of the requirements in the job postings such as: “You will use data every single day to uncover meaningful insights that inform your experimentation strategy and ultimately, your product roadmap.”
However, Thomas said the new team was about more than data. “Our meal solutions team spans across our entire business—meaning that it has people and roles in many functions, Loblaw Digital being just one area—bringing together our current in-house capabilities with new, complementary skill sets to ensure our product offering best suits the needs of our customers.”
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Loblaw launched PC Chef meal kits as a pilot in 13 stores in the Greater Toronto Area. Those kits can be bought in-store and online through the Loblaw PC Express shopping platform.
“The line includes eight meal choices at the moment, with all the fresh ingredients--pre-measured and in some cases prepared--for our customers’ dinnertime solutions,” said Thomas. “It’s early in our pilot and we’re testing the uptake of these meal options in our stores and online.”
Meal kits have clearly been an emerging priority for Loblaw with president Sarah Davis stressing their importance during a call with analysts back in May.
“We are inspired by the challenge of helping our customer solve meals for their families in a convenient way with solutions that bring home style restaurant quality innovation inspired by our head chefs,” she said at the time.
And meal kits are of growing interest to Canadian consumers. While 13% of Canadians have tried meal kits, 42% of non-users say they have an interest in trying a meal kit, according to research conducted by NPD Group in 2018.
Convenience is a driving factor in increased interest, with 67% of users saying “their life is hectic and rushed” compared to 42% of non-users. And homes with children have been earlier adopters, “with 20% having tried them at least once,” said NPD.