Get Adobe Flash player

Meal Delivery Service Caters to the Health-Conscious But Busy

By Lorrie Baumann

Terra’s Kitchen is one of those meal kit delivery services that have been springing up all over the country, and while it’s only just over a year old, it’s taking off nationally by offering convenience, freshness and flexibility to busy individuals with a wide range of dietary requirements and concerns about the environmental sustainability of their choices. “We know that there are many different ways to eat in a healthy manner,” said Michael McDevitt, the company’s CEO. “We’re meeting the needs of many different types of consumers.”

McDevitt started the business just 19 months ago. “I got the news that I was becoming a father, and I wanted to do everything I could do to reinvent the childhood I had growing around the table, which seemed to have fallen off,” he said. “People are just so busy today.”

“We exist to connect family and friends back around the dinner table. That’s why we are here,” he continued.

The company has four pillars to its brand: health, talk, balance and convenience. Recipes for the meals are developed as a cooperation between the company’s Creative Culinary Director, Libbie Summers, and its Director of Nutrition, Dr. Lisa Davis, PhD, PA-C, CNS, to ensure that they’re both tasty and nutritious, and variety is a key, with more than 40 seasonal offerings on the company’s website at any given time. Customers can filter the menu offerings according to several dietary regimes so that the choices they’re offered meet their own needs, whether that’s Paleo, vegetarian, gluten-free or just generally nutrition-conscious. Most of the meal choices are priced between $10 and $15 per serving.

Ingredients for the meals are prechopped and packaged for shipment in a reusable vessel that the consumer unpacks at home and then puts back outside for pickup the next day by the same service that delivered it. The vessel is delivered back to Terra’s Kitchen, where it’s sanitized and reused. There’s no outer box or gel packs to make the kind of excessive packaging waste that many critics of meal delivery services have pointed out as a conflict with environmental sustainability. Individual ingredient items, organic or non-GMO when possible, are packaged in recyclable plastic containers – 4-inch by 4-inch plastic boxes of the kind that consumers are used to seeing as packaging for deli salads in their supermarkets. Consumers may recycle the plastic containers either by returning them to the vessel to be delivered back to Terra’s Kitchen or putting them into their own municipal collection, or they often find other ways to use the containers, McDevitt said. The minimal packaging drops the amount of packaging waste for a Terra’s Kitchen delivery to about 8 ounces per week, or about 25 pounds per year, which compares to about 450 pounds a year for some of the company’s competitors.

Along with every meal, as part of the company’s brand pillars, the customer gets a table talk topic that’s designed to spark conversation. Topics range from light-hearted philosophical questions to nutrition information about the actual meal the consumer is eating. “We do what we can to spark conversations around the table,” McDevitt said. “We have a lot of fun helping table talk.”

The company’s focus on balance and convenience means that every meal offered can be prepared in less than 30 minutes. McDevitt says this reflects that the company is conscious of the time and effort needed to prepare a healthy meal and aware that its customers are looking for help managing both their time and their nutrition. “Everybody knows how they should be eating, but it’s very difficult to take those steps,” McDevitt said. “We take the majority of the prep work out of the meal by sending everybody pre-cut ingredients.”

Terra’s Kitchen ships from both the East and West Coasts to cover the entire nation. Subscribers order weekly meal deliveries for up to four or five weeks. They can to go back and alter their choices ahead of each shipping date, and they can choose the days of the week on which they’d like their shipments to arrive. “The benefit is that you can do all of your meal planning for a month in a 10-minute sitting,” McDevitt said.

The average customer is likely to order two or three dinners and two or three grab-and-go items to pack for office lunches. Terra’s Kitchen does not yet offer traditional breakfast items. The company requires a minimum $65 order for each shipment. “You’re signing up for meals to come in the container, which comes in a weekly basis, but you can skip weeks and only have it come on the weeks that you want it,” McDevitt said. “We are very much aware of our clientele. The most typical consumer is a busy, two-income family with young children, both working, both very busy. We’re also having tremendous success in the empty nester market as well, those people who have time on their hands and are just looking for a more convenient way to gather around the table together for dinner – other than going out to dinner.”

He added that, “It started for the purpose of helping families getting together around the table, and we’re having tremendous success with that.”

Wandering the Human Zoo with a Market Researcher Guide

By Lorrie Baumann

Around 52 million American consumers are people that market researcher Maryellen Molyneaux says are among those motivated by health and sustainability. This population, which she calls LOHAS consumers, is particularly important to retailers because they’re well-educated, they’re well-off, and they tend to put their money where their values are.

To understand this better, let’s think first about what market researchers actually do for us. If you picture your municipal zoo, but then imagine that the various enclosures are populated with human consumers rather than other kinds of exotic animals, the market researchers are like tour guides. When you come into the zoo as an interested but casual observer, these tour guides meet you at the gate and explore the zoo with you. Many of today’s market researchers would draw your attention to enclosures with signs that label them as creatures like “Baby Boomers” or “Millennials.” They’ll say things that sound like this: “Notice that the Millennials are young adults. You’ll see that some of them are carrying their young but others haven’t yet begun to reproduce. Don’t they all look happy accessing the internet with their smart phones! Now over here in the next enclosure, you’ll see the GenXers, and you’ll notice that they’re about to enter what we think of as middle age, which means that they’re thinking more about their health. Look at them wandering around the health and beauty aisle that we’ve set up inside their enclosure to help them feel that they’re in familiar surroundings.”

If you should happen to draw Molyneaux as your tour guide, though, she’ll draw your attention to subgroups of creatures that she sees within each of these generational enclosures, and what she’ll point out is that in each of the various enclosures, there’s a group of people who just seem a little cooler than the rest. It’s that coolness that draws her interest, and she can see it being acted out when they spend their money.

She’s especially interested in watching these particular creatures make their purchasing decisions because, when the other creatures in their enclosure see what these cool creatures are buying, they start wanting to buy those things too. This means that what these cool creatures are buying is about to become a trend.

Molyneaux calls these cool creatures LOHAS. They’re the market segment that, irrespective of the generation in which they’re found, are greatly motivated by their concerns for health and environmental sustainability. “When you think about conscious consumption, LOHAS consumers lead the pack and will continue to do so. They’re the ones who buy with their values,” Molyneaux said. “Not only do they buy with their values, but they become brand champions.”

When she’s not acting as our tour guide in our imaginary zoo, Molyneaux is the President and Managing Partner of the Natural Marketing Institute. Her market consulting company has been advising businesses about how to leverage information about consumers interested in health, wellness and sustainability since 1990, and she’s been collecting proprietary trend data since 1999.

LOHAS consumers now comprise 22 percent of all American consumers, and where they lead, others tend to follow. “Adoptions of attitudes and behaviors come first to LOHAS, but then their attitudes are flowing into the mainstream groups,” Molyneaux said. “To be able to understand these consumers is important…. These are the consumers that set the bar.”

LOHAS consumers have education and more money than other market segments, and in general, they favor the organic label. While more than 60 percent of American consumers have used an organic product in the last year, LOHAS consumers use more organic than anyone else. Two thirds of them believe that organic foods are safer to eat, and 71 percent of them believe they’re safer for the environment. That compares to 63 percent of all organic users who believe that organic foods are safer to eat and 64 percent of all organic users who believe that organic foods are safer for the environment. Three-fourths (76 percent) of LOHAS consumers believe that it’s important that their store carry food grown on farms that practice sustainable agriculture, compared to half of the general population who share that belief.

LOHAS consumers are growing in their perceptions that organic foods and beverages are safer to eat, more nutritious, fresher and better-tasting than conventional foods and beverages. In the decade between 2006 and 2015, the number of general population consumers who believed that organic food is safer to eat grew from 41 percent to 50 percent, and the number who said that organic food is more nutritious grew from 35 percent to 45 percent. Similar gains were observed on the questions of freshness and taste.

LOHAS consumers are more likely than the general population to prefer vegetarian meals. While 30 percent of the general population is trying to cut down on meat consumption, 40 percent of LOHAS consumers are doing that. “They’re very into protein sources and the effect of protein sources on sustainability, including the sustainability of agriculture,” Molyneaux said. We see the general population beginning to follow that trend: 41 percent of general population consumers now say they want more plant-based protein in their diets, and one out of five general population consumers say they’re consuming more plant-based protein than they did a year ago.

The LOHAS consumers are also thinking about how their preferences for products made without toxins or artificial ingredients can apply to more than just food, and they’re driving demand for personal care products and cleaning products. They’re already requiring that manufacturers meet their demands for transparency around the issues of health and sustainability. “They don’t expect perfection. They expect progress. You can be transparent about the progress you’re making, what you’re trying to accomplish, what the next thing is,” Molyneaux said. “That goes from operating your store in a more sustainable manner to conserving waste to serving social needs. There are so many platforms that can be address and that should be addressed, using these consumers as your springboard.”

BJ’s Wholesale Club Announces $10,000 Donation and Partnership with Lowcountry Food Bank

BJ’s Wholesale Club has made a $10,000 donation and joined a partnership with the Lowcountry Food Bank, a Feeding America Member food bank. The donation from the BJ’s Charitable Foundation will help alleviate hunger in the community by supporting the food bank’s acquisition of fresh, nutritious food during the holiday season.

“BJ’s is committed to making a positive difference in the communities we serve, and we’re proud to support the Lowcountry Food Bank,” said Kirk Saville, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications at BJ’s Wholesale Club. “This partnership marks the beginning of BJ’s presence in South Carolina, and we’re happy to help the Lowcountry Food Bank source fresh, nutritious food during the holiday season.”

The BJ’s Wholesale Club is slated for opening in Charleston, South Carolina, in spring 2017 and will provide affordable fresh food options to the community that beat grocery store prices every day. Additionally, through its Feeding Communities Program, the Club will donate unsold produce, meat, poultry, seafood, dairy and bakery products on a daily basis to reduce food waste and provide wholesome, fresh food to neighbors in need.

“We are excited about our new partnership with BJ’s Wholesale Club,” said Pat Walker, President and CEO of the Lowcountry Food Bank. “Their generous donation will help provide thousands of families impacted by food insecurity with nutritious food. With a partner like BJ’s Wholesale Club, together we will be able to make a significant impact in the fight against hunger in our community.”


Gourmet News

Follow me on Twitter