COOK OFF!

America’s meal-kit craze is attracting a big new competitor

The snootiest grocery store in the US is about to make a charge into people homes—with meal kits.

Whole Foods Market is testing a service that would capitalize on one of the newest crazes in food retailing and put the company in direct competition with offerings from the likes of Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and even The New York Times.

The meal-kit space has become especially trendy as venture capital funding to startups combining food retailing and logistics technology has been on the rise. It’s a bet that more people want to dive into home cooking, but want the necessary ingredients packaged for them in tidy, deliverable little boxes.

Whole Foods, which discussed its plans on a July 27 conference call with investors, didn’t offer many details and did not say how the service would be branded.

“I would say there’s a lot of people in the ‘Willy Wonka laboratory’ working on this thing,” said Jason Buechel, the company’s chief information officer.

“We’ve been tasting a lot of food,” operations executive Ken Meyer added. “And we’re really excited about some of the stuff we’re going to be bringing out.”

It’s unclear when the meal-kit offering will begin, but Whole Foods has every reason to get the service up and running before the fall, when e-commerce juggernaut Amazon is expected to begin its own meal-kit service in partnership with Tyson Foods.

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