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Food Service New Product Spotlight

Chick-fil-A Joins the Meal Kit Fray

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A look at the ingredients comprising Chick-fil-A’s new meal kit.

In March, the NPD Group’s Darren Seifer wrote a blog about the state of meal kits and asked this question, “Is it time for meal kits to reinvent themselves?” Seifer, the food and beverage industry analyst for the market researcher, was spot on but he probably didn’t expect to happen what has happened.

The meal kit segment is being turned on its head, thanks to the coronavirus. But we’re not necessarily talking about mail-order meal kits or meal kits that you can pick up from the grocery store. We’re talking meal kits from restaurants that were forced to shut their doors during the COVID-19 crisis. To stay in business, restaurants are selling their own ingredients as meal kits.

While many of the restaurants are local, a big-name fast-food chain has joined the meal kit fray.

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A will begin offering Chicken Parmesan Meal Kits at participating restaurants nationwide beginning May 4. If it sounds like Chick-fil-A is late to the game — considering that many restaurants around the country will be given permission to open their doors in the next few weeks — it isn’t. Many consumers will still be hesitant to dine out in restaurants. They want options, and Chick-fil-A is providing them that with something totally different from its regular menu.

Chick-fil-A’s make-it-yourself kit features pre-measured and ready-to-heat ingredients and a step-by-step recipe that can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Starting at $14.99, the meal kit serves two adults and comes with two seasoned, breaded, and pressure-cooked original Chick-fil-A chicken filets, marinara sauce, Italian-style cheeses, and creamy garlic and lemon pasta.

Customers can customize their kits by substituting the original chicken filets with grilled or spicy filets. Meal kits can be purchased at participating Chick-fil-A restaurants in the drive-thru, via the Chick-fil-A App, or through one of Chick-fil-A’s delivery partners, including DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub.

“Our guests are currently experiencing unique challenges, which is why we’re proud to offer the Chicken Parmesan Meal Kit,” said Ben Bolling, menu and packaging program lead at Chick-fil-A.

Interestingly, Chick-fil-A didn’t create the meal kits in response to the coronavirus , although rolling the product out now is perfect timing. The chain tested the concept exclusively in Atlanta in 2018.

“After receiving such a positive response about [it] during our 2018 test, we’re thrilled to offer it with great enhancements at participating restaurants nationwide during a time when our guests need convenient mealtime options,” said Stuart Tracy, senior culinary lead at Chick-fil-A. “We hope that providing a dinner option for guests who are ordering lunch with us will help make mealtime decisions easier. The goal is to deliver the joy of cooking without added stress, and the recipe is simple enough that even the kids can help.”

What fast-food chain could be next with a meal kit? Would McDonald’s allow people to prepare Big Macs at hope? Would Burger King allow that for Whoppers?

Stranger things have happened, like the coronavirus itself.

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