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At Plated, The Future Of Meal-Kit Services Is Grocery Stores

After their company’s recent acquisition by grocery giant Albertsons, Plated’s cofounders are getting ready hit stores by the end of the year.

“By the end of 2020, any standalone meal-kit company will be dead,” said Nick Taranto, chief strategy officer and cofounder of Plated, speaking at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in New York City, “and we’re going to put them out of business.”

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The five-year-old Plated, which was acquired last month by the grocery giant Albertsons Companies for a reported $200 million, is the latest meal-kit company to find a safe haven within a larger partner. Campbell Soup invested $10 million in Chef’d in May, just after Unilever invested $9 million in meal-subscription service Sun Basket.

Meanwhile, Blue Apron, the largest and most visible meal-kit company, has been struggling. The company laid off 6% of its staff last week, and it’s struggling to stabilize its stock price after going public in June. Still, despite persistent rumors of Amazon’s inevitable entrance into the market, Hello Fresh announced that it plans to go public this week.

Josh Hix, Elania Karp and Nick Taranto of Plated [Photo: oh jimmy films]
All of which puts Plated into an enviably safe position. The company now has access to 2,300-plus stores across 20 different chains–including Safeway, Shaw’s, and Pavilions markets. It’s already tapping into a network of Albertsons’s food suppliers, refrigerated delivery services, and–crucially–its 35 million weekly active shoppers, said CEO and cofounder Josh Hix during the event, which was held at Plated’s New York headquarters. Hix, who hinted that they had been looking for a larger grocery outlet to partner with since 2013, has long known that retail would be a critical part of Plated’s story. “Customer acquisition and retention is one of the biggest challenges of our category,” he said.

[Photo: oh jimmy films]
The company is preparing for its ready-to-cook meals to begin appearing in select Albertsons stores before the end of the year. And down the line, Hix said that Plated hopes to roll out different kinds of products, including perhaps lower-cost kits under a different brand name. (Albertsons’s shop.safeway.com, notably, is one of a handful of sites currently participating in a pilot with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that lets shoppers use SNAP food benefits to buy groceries online.)

Hix is also looking forward to integrating Plated into the loyalty programs of its parent company’s grocery chains, which will give the subscription service unparalleled insight in the shopping habits and tastes of its customers.