Walmart and Weight Watchers launch meal kits


Weight Watchers International, which counts Oprah Winfrey among its biggest shareholders, is getting into the meal-kit business.

The weight-loss company announced Thursday that it plans to roll out meal kits — boxes that include fresh, pre-measured ingredients that you cook at home — at supermarkets during the second half of this year. Weight Watchers is working with the Ventura, Calif.-based meal kit company FreshRealm.

Weight Watchers hasn’t released pricing information.

The news comes three days after Walmart announced plans to sell its own line of meal kits at 2,000 stores nationwide by the end of this year.

Meal kits have grown in popularity as Americans increasingly look for the convenience of using pre-prepped meal ingredients. This $2.5 billion industry is expected to grow 20% annually, according to Pentallect, a Chicago-based food industry consultancy.

“We know people today need the tools, inspiration and community to develop healthy habits in their day-to-day lives,” Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman said in a statement. “We are delivering the solutions that make healthy eating and cooking accessible, easier and simpler for all.”

Meal kits are part of the company’s new WW Healthy Kitchen initiative, which also includes a line of kitchen tools and products made by the kitchenware company Gibson Overseas, like infuser water bottles, pineapple corers and pots with internal portion-measuring marks. They will go on sale later this year.

Weight Watchers entry into the market shows how the kits are covering a wider array of diners’ needs.

“There’s a version for everyone – paleo, families, plant-based,” New York-based food consultant Brita Rosenheim said about meal kits on the market currently. “It makes sense Weight Watchers is trying to get a piece of this. Their audience is people they’re trying to help think about their food choices.”

For years, Weight Watchers has been selling its own line of branded food, including popcorn, candies, cookies and shakes. In November, it added diet wine, called Cense..

Walmart, the largest retailer in the U.S., had initially tested its meal-kit line in 250 stores in eight stores over the last several weeks.

In September, supermarket chain Albertsons made its way into the meal kit business by buying Plated. In July, Amazon launched its own line of meal kits.

Earlier this month, Winfrey, who’d purchased approximately 10% of Weight Watchers in October 2015 and then another 1.4 million-plus shares in March, sold about a quarter of her stake.

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey sold a portion of her holdings in Weight Watchers International Inc, the former talk show host’s production company Harpo Inc said on Tuesday. Lisa Bernhard reports. Video provided by Reuters Newslook

This article originally appeared in The Daily Meal.

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