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Walmart expanding meal kits to more stores

Easy-to-make dinners will be available to pick up in store or order online

Walmart wants a bigger slice of the crowded meal-kits business, announcing Monday that it will offer easy-to-make dinners in more stores this year.

The move puts the world's largest retailer in direct competition with meal-kit companies such as Blue Apron and HelloFresh, which deliver boxes of raw meat and chopped vegetables to subscribers' doorsteps. After Walmart's announcement Monday, Blue Apron's stock tumbled 5%.

READ: What grocers can gain by buying meal-kit services

Walmart said its meal kits, which will expand from 250 stores to more than 2,000, will be available in its deli section or can be ordered online and picked up later that day. It is offering three types of kits: pre-portioned meals that need to be cooked; ingredients that pair with its rotisserie chicken; or one-step dishes that just need to be heated up. The meals feed two people and are priced between $8 and $15.

Though the meal kit announcement is specific to the U.S., a Walmart spokesperson told Canadian Grocer that the retailer's Canadian operations recognize families are looking for easy and affordable meal solutions. To address this, Walmart's superstores offer meals to go including chicken, lasagna, chicken parmesan and pizza in addition to side dishes.

"We continue to expand our meals to go offering and customers can expect to enjoy some new menu options in the coming months," she said.

Several companies in the U.S. and Canada already offer meal kits, both online and in stores. Amazon, which bought grocer Whole Foods last year, sells meal kits on its site and at its recently-opened convenience store in Seattle. And in Canada, Metro acquired a majority stake in Montreal meal delivery service MissFresh last summer.

READ: Amazon introduces meal kits in bid to expand groceries

Blue Apron Holdings, meanwhile, has struggled since it became a publicly-traded company in June; it recently said it lost 15% of its customers last year compared with the year before. Its shares are down 74% since its initial public offering price of $10.

Walmart Inc., based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said its meal kits would be made in stores. Its dishes will include meatloaf, spaghetti and meatballs and chicken fried rice.

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