Waitrose has launched a trial service to deliver recipe boxes to customers. Cook Well by Waitrose allows shoppers to order boxes of fresh meal ingredients as single orders or to sign up for a weekly subscription service.
The boxes are delivered for free, with the ability to cancel anytime and the service is available nationwide. This latest move follows a pilot last autumn of Dinner for Tonight meal bags, which were sold in 20 Waitrose stores, with the ingredients customers needed to cook fresh meals from scratch.
Even Waitrose has suffered in recent months amidst intense competition in the UK. It surprised the market with its recent decision to close six unprofitable stores and remove a layer of management from its supermarkets to reduce costs. Yet at the same time as part of its Modern Waitrose strategy the company is aiming to grow and differentiate by leveraging the quality associated with its brand, as demonstrated by the recently introduced Waitrose 1 private label line.
Recipe boxes are not new and have been offered online and instore by many retailers now, including Waitrose itself and Tesco in the UK, as well as pureplayer subscription service Hello Fresh. They originate from Sweden and have long been popular in the Nordics. But they are increasing in popularity in the UK as many retailers aim to tap into the growing Food to Go trend, which is becoming a growing sector among busy working professionals and families.
As the focus on Food to Go shifts towards healthier meals and quality ingredients, Waitrose has an opportunity to differentiate and capitalise on its credentials and its shopper demographics. And by trialling the recipe box service online, the retailer can do so at low risk and with minimal overheads. We can expect to see further trials by Waitrose going forward as it works to develop its niche.