Nation & World

Wal-Mart adds prepared meals, entering competitive meal kit space

Program to expand to 2,000 by the end of 2018

Wal-Mart

Ten different Wal-Mart meal kits are available in 250 stores.
Wal-Mart Ten different Wal-Mart meal kits are available in 250 stores.

Wal-Mart will start offering prepared meals at its stores for the first time, a move that could help the nation’s biggest grocer sell more food while siphoning customers from restaurant chains.

Ten different meals are now available in 250 stores, and the program will expand to 2,000 locations by year’s end, Wal-Mart executives said in an interview. The company also is introducing four $15 meal-kit options in stores, expanding a business that previously only had been offered online through outside vendors.

“More than 80 percent of Americans don’t know what they will have for dinner tonight,” said Tyler Lehr, a Wal-Mart senior vice president. Scrambling to find a meal “puts pressure on a family,” he said.

The move is the latest step to improve Wal-Mart’s grocery business, the chain’s biggest source of revenue. It has upgraded its beef to certified Angus, cultivated a sweeter variety of cantaloupe that can be sold year-round and recently developed a better way to track the freshness of fruits and vegetables as they travel from farms to its shelves.

The company also is looking to ward off competitors on multiple fronts, including Amazon.com, German discounter Aldi and meal-kit purveyor Blue Apron Holdings.

Prices of the prepared meals will range from $8 to $10, and varieties include pot roast with mashed potatoes and chicken enchiladas.

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