Dr. Phillips Publix pilots meal-kit program

The Southwest Orange location in the Dr. Phillips Marketplace is one of the first two to offer the new program.

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  • | 1:07 p.m. July 11, 2017
Each week Publix rolls out six featured recipes for its Aprons meal-kit program.
Each week Publix rolls out six featured recipes for its Aprons meal-kit program.
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DR. PHILLIPS  Not much of a cook? Not a problem.

In following suit with similar meal-kit programs such as Blue Apron and HelloFresh, Publix recently launched a test run of offering kits of its own, called Aprons meal kits. The grocer launched the meal kits under its Aprons department, which includes recipes, cooking schools, event-planning services and in-store demonstrations.

“The test started late February (to) early March 2017 in two Publix locations, one in Orlando and one in Tampa,” said Dwaine Stevens, media and community relations manager for Orlando-area Publix stores.

In Tampa, customers can find the new meal kits at the Shoppes of Citrus Park, while Orlando customers can find them at The Marketplace at Dr. Phillips, in a case near the store entrance.

“We’re kind of like pioneers of the program, which is kind of cool,” said Dinorah Ortiz, meal solution specialist for the Dr. Phillips Marketplace Publix. “It’s popular, we’ve been getting good feedback.” 

The idea behind such meal packages is to offer a quick, grab-and-go solution to meal planning and preparation. There are different kits for different meals, and each is stocked with all ingredients and instructions necessary for creating the meal. Customers simply go into the store, pick out and purchase the kit they’d like, and then take it home for preparation and serving. 

All ingredients are pre-portioned, and each recipe can yield between two and four servings. At the Dr. Phillips location, the case holds 45 grab-and-go bags, and six recipes at a time are featured each week.

“On Wednesdays, when we do our big builds to roll out new recipes for the next day, we build between 70 to 90 bags,” Ortiz said. “Every Thursday, six new recipes roll out from the pool of recipes Publix has. It’s all portioned out, all you have to do is follow the recipe.”

The kits are available in three levels of preparation: simple, simpler and simplest. Simple prep kits require six or fewer steps, simpler kits require four or fewer, and the simplest ones — also called “heat and eat” — require only one or two steps.

A “heat and eat” kit can yield a meal of beef bratwurst and sauerkraut with potato salad and baked beans, while one with six steps can help create a meal of Caribbean chicken wings with roasted tropical potatoes.

Other supermarkets such as Fresh Market, Kroger and Whole Foods also have introduced their own meal-kit creations. In fact, Nielsen consumer studies reported that in the last year, meal kits in nationwide grocery stores generated $80.6 million in sales, up 6.7% over the previous year. 

Additionally, Nielsen found that “one in four U.S. adults has purchased a meal kit either in the store or for delivery during the last year, with 70% going back after making their first purchase.”

And according to Food Dive, a food industry and new analysis publication, marketing studies estimate that meal-kit delivery services will generate upward of $1.5 billion in sales during 2017. But unlike competitors Blue Apron and HelloFresh, Publix currently does not offer a delivery service for its meal kits.

Store Manager Jay Farley said all of the recipes have been successful, with some even taking off more than others, and the feedback from customers has been quite positive.

“It took off really quickly, and this is a very big industry out there,” Farley said. “We have a very loyal customer base, and the feedback we’ve gotten is that they’re very excited to see Publix step into this as well and offer our level of service and our level of quality with something that’s also fast and convenient. We live in such a fast-paced world, and I think the faster we can take care of our customers, the happier they’re going to be.”

Publix is currently selling the kits ranging from $9.99 to $37.99, depending on tier level and ingredients included.


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