The Kroger Co. has partnered with ghost food operator Kitchen United to provide customers with online ordering, pickup and delivery of freshly prepared meals at area restaurants.
As part of the partnership, announced Wednesday, offsite restaurant kitchens operated by Kitchen United in Kroger stores will include up to six local, regional or national restaurant brands. Customers place orders through the Kitchen United website, mobile app, or on-site kiosks, and restaurant staff prepare orders. Meals can be picked up in-store or delivered to customers’ homes, with delivery service charges set by third-party providers.
Plans call for the first kitchen to open this fall at a Ralphs supermarket in Los Angeles, with more locations launching later this year, Kroger and Kitchen United said.
“Our customers’ appetites for fresh, on-demand meals continue to accelerate, and we remain focused on delivering new and innovative products that deliver anything, anytime, anywhere,” Dan De La Rosa, vice president of the fresh merchandising group at Cincinnati. Kroger, said in a statement. “Our partnership with Kitchen United takes advantage of the increasing use by restaurants of the offsite kitchen space to increase customers’ access to their favorite foods.
Under the name “Kitchen United MIX”, the kitchen centers will allow Kroger customers to order food from each restaurant brand and consolidate their purchases on a single receipt. Kitchen United, based in Pasadena, Calif., Said it has diversified its offerings through the expansion of its exclusive MIX platform, which powers its concept of bringing a menu of restaurant brands from one destination to the delivery and pickup.
“Kitchen United recognizes Kroger’s significant value as a strategic partner. Our collaboration enables participating restaurants to access millions of Kroger customers and better meet off-premises demand in a convenient supermarket format, a frequent destination for most consumers, ”said Michael Montagano, CEO of Kitchen United . “We’ve worked with the Kroger team to organize a mix of popular restaurant brands, and we see a great opportunity to showcase our partnership in cities across the country. “
The Kitchen United partnership marks Kroger’s second on-site ghost kitchen announcement in the past year. Last fall, the supermarket giant unveiled plans to launch two ghost kitchens with ClusterTruck inside Metropolitan Indianapolis stores and outside Columbus, Ohio, for on-demand delivery of food. freshly prepared. This follows a successful pilot of a meal service – dubbed Kroger Delivery Kitchen Powered by ClusterTruck – from offsite ‘scratch kitchens’ in late 2019.
Craig Gauden, director of partnership development at Kroger, noted that Kitchen United MIX will provide customers with another convenient dining option.
Kitchen United MIX has six ghost kitchens in four states, including California (two), Illinois (two), Texas and Arizona. (Photo courtesy of Kitchen United)
“As we continue to define Kroger as a food destination, this collaboration creates another seamless way for our customers to order lunch or dinner for pickup while they shop or to be delivered to their location. choice, ”Gauden commented.
Kitchen United lists six kitchen centers on its website, including facilities in Pasadena and San Jose, California; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Austin, Texas, as well as two sites in Chicago. Founded in 2017, the company noted that its food service hub technology, logistics and commercial kitchen space enable food service operators to generate off-premises business and provide consumers with a different take-out dining experience.
“We are proud to have launched a number of successful ghost kitchen centers across the country, and now we are applying our experience and taking steps to expand into non-traditional ghost kitchen formats, such as shopping malls. retail and food halls as our brand new Kitchen Center location. in Chicago alongside our efforts with Kroger, ”said Atul Sood, Commercial Director of Kitchen United. “Our team has built a powerful technology stack and developed an infrastructure that optimizes any kitchen environment for a lean and profitable offsite business. Kroger is the perfect partner as we expand our reach and variety of verticals, in addition to our well-known ghost kitchen model. “
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced supermarket prepared food sales as retailers have had to shut down self-service hot food operations and home-cooked customers, the food service industry is a great growth opportunity. in the future, according to the 2021 Power of Foodservice at Retail report by FMI-The Food Industry Association, released in late July. The study found that 39% of consumers view retail catering as a substitute for both a home cooked meal and a restaurant meal, which puts grocers in a strong position as meal providers.
Likewise, the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) said it plans to highlight foodservice at its annual Private Label show to help retailers and food suppliers capitalize on the expected growth of foodservice solutions. meal. PLMA said many ‘best-in-class’ retail chains have already expanded their offering of convenience-focused foods for ready meals, cooking and dining, either packaged for pickup or delivery. online or take it to stores.
Food retailers that have expanded their ready-made or restaurant-grade meal offerings and / or foodservice options include Walmart, Fortinos Supermarket, Hy-Vee, Schnuck Markets, The Giant Company, Quality Food Centers (QFC), Loblaw Cos ., HEB and Le Marché du Frais, among others.