Bringing Sweet Moments to the Online Meal-Kit Space


Carrie Lathrop
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Manager of E-Commerce and Emerging Channels, The Hershey Company

At Hershey, I am thrilled to be part of a team that is working on how we can participate in the new and emerging channels our consumers are embracing. As someone in the food industry, I have seen first hand how things have changed rapidly in the last few years. We are living in very exciting times. I, myself, hear and speak the word “disruption” a few times every day. The food and retail industry is being disrupted, and the pace of change is unprecedented. Consumers’ changing relationship with food, ubiquitous technology and access to information, digital media and our busy lifestyles are impacting the way we shop, prepare and eat the food we love.

Enter meal-kit services, the latest disruptors

Online meal-kit companies are among the latest entrants disrupting the grocery and restaurant space. Services like Chef’d, Blue Apron, Plated and Hello Fresh are some of the biggest names among 150-plus companies that curate recipes and procure ingredients for making a gourmet dinner at home. You receive ingredients in an insulated box once a week, and it includes recipe cards that walk you step-by-step through how to prepare restaurant-worthy meals. Portioned ingredients, down to a tablespoon of flour, make for an easy and waste-free cooking experience. No wonder, convenience-oriented millennials and busy moms are embracing this new channel.

What makes Chef’d unique in the meal-kit market is their subscription-free model. They allow users the choice of what they want, when they want and the ability to re-order their favorite meals. Chef’d’s unprecedented convenience is just one of the reasons we’re excited to partner with them to bring our brands into a new channel.

We go where the consumers go

As Hershey, it is in our DNA to put consumer needs first. Consumer expectations of food are evolving, and we are accordingly adapting to provide more simple ingredients and greater transparency into their origin. Similarly, consumers are shopping through new channels, and we are seeking out smart partners, like Chef’d, to make sure we are available in these new places.

Based on market research from Packaged Facts, the online meal-kit marketplace will be a $1.5 billion industry in 2016. Per research from PiperJaffray, the market is growing at 300% annually, and could be a multi-billion-dollar industry in just a few years. A CivicScience survey also suggests that city-dwellers, higher-income professionals and older millennials and women are more likely to use meal-kits. Armed with these insights, we have been exploring how we can leverage this growing space to connect with our consumers.

Announcing Hershey’s partnership with Chef’d

We are happy to be ‘going live’ in the online meal-prep space with our partner, Chef’d. This is also the first time that a major confectionery company has partnered with a meal-kit service to provided branded dessert recipes to consumers.

Founded in 2013, and based in El Segundo, California, Chef’d is one of the first to enter the online meal-kit space. Chef’d’s dessert line-up will include recipes featuring the Hershey’s Kitchens and Scharffen Berger brands. The initial launch features ten unique dessert recipes including Hershey Kitchens’ S’mores Cookie and Scharffen Berger’s Oatmeal Chocolate bar. We have made sure that our desserts cater to consumers of all skill levels and taste preferences.

“Hershey is taking a leadership position as the first confectionery brand to sell their recipes online. We are thrilled to be working with them to get dessert kits to consumers nationally,” said Kyle Ransford, founder and CEO of Chef’d. “We think they are trend setting and others will follow.”

From the very beginning of our relationship, Chef’d has been an outstanding partner. In a true collaborative spirit, their chefs and our food experts have worked together to identify recipes that are a good fit for Chef’d’s shoppers. We tested all the recipes in Chef’d’s kitchen in Los Angeles, and we have reviewed every detail to make sure the end-consumer has a great experience making desserts in their home.

Disruption - Game On

The Chef’d partnership is a great “test and learn” effort for Hershey before we make larger investments in this channel. This is an approach that we are familiar taking as retail continues to change at its fastest pace ever. Our hope is to learn a lot quickly so that we can be smart and strategic about our investments. With Chef’d, we are learning what it takes to participate in this next-gen selling channel.

We are eager to learn how the consumer responds and adapt our approach to better cater to their needs. You may have heard the phrase, “disrupt or get disrupted.” We are excited to be the disruptors disrupting the desserts space!