Over the past year, a deluge of acquisition and collaboration deals between meal kit manufacturers and retailers has created a groundswell of media conversation, consumer awareness and retail distribution points for meal kit offerings. And, according to the latest data from Nielsen, Chicago, 187 new meal kit items were introduced within in-store retail outlets alone during the 52 weeks ended Dec. 29, 2018. But, as more and more meal kits come to market, is consumer demand keeping pace?

Data shows that consumer demand in meal kits is strong. In fact, meal kit users have increased 36% over the past year, and panel data shows that 14.3 million households purchased meal kits in the last six months of 2018, reflecting a marked increase of 3.8 million households from the end of 2017. And, 23% of American households say they would consider purchasing a meal kit within the next six months.

Last year, as more and more meal kits providers made their way into brick-and-mortar stores, sales of in-store full meal kit offerings garnered $93 million over the 52-week period ending Dec. 29, 2018. At the same time, in-store meal kit users jumped by 2.2 million households in less than a year, accounting for 60% of growth in meal kit users. While the majority of meal kit sales did still occur online in 2018, growth occurred both exclusively in-store exclusive and within the combined online/offline space.


Overall, affluent consumers earning an income of more than $100,000 drove meal kit growth across online and in-store in 2018. Compared to 2017, these consumers increased their online meal kit purchases by 6 points and their in-store purchases by 9 points. Across both outlets, growth is also being led by consumers between the ages of 35-44, who showed a 4.3 point increase in meal kit purchases online and a 9.2 point increase in those bought in-store. Meanwhile, meal kit purchases from older consumers aged 45-54 declined 2.8 points online and 7 points in-store over the past year.

The insights in this report were derived from a Nielsen Homescan Panel Custom Survey that was conducted Oct. 22-Nov. 12, 2018 and Nov. 30-Dec. 25, 2018, as well as U.S. Census of 120 million households conducted in December 2017.