A meal kit is a product made up of prepped ingredients and seasonings for ease of consumption by consumers. Among the Home Meal Replacement (HMR) options, meal kits are ‘fresh HMR’ because they usually need to be cooked within 3 or 4 days. The kits are popular with many people who are clumsy in the kitchen. They welcome the goods because they make it easier to get home cooked meals without all the fuss or making it from scratch.
|▲ Meal Kits Stands (Photo from Dankook Herald)
There are many reasons people come to love meal kits. First, there is no food garbage when you use meal kits. When making your own food from beginning to end, you inevitably have a lot of surplus ingredients left. Often that goes to waste unless you are able to find creative ways to use it in other meals. Furthermore, if you live alone, it is hard to buy only enough of the ingredients you need. Meal kits significantly reduce the burden of having to deal with surplus food waste. Second, you can get a satisfying tasty meal in a short time. The average cooking time of a meal kit is 15 minutes. Consumers also do not feel the need to alter the meal kit in any way as they tend to arrive fully prepped for a suitable level of taste. Third, there is a perception that the meal kits are cheaper and healthier than delivery foods. In the case of low-cost meal kits, products range from 2,000 to less than 10,000 won. That is definitely cheaper than delivery food. In addition, when we cook a meal kit, people can also control the amount of seasoning they use, making it easier to enjoy healthier meals as compared to instant food.
Dankook Herald (DKH) reporters tried out a few different meal kits to review them for you. Deputy Director, Choi Min-ji, bought a Chuncheon style dak-galbi (spicy stir-fried chicken). Her first impression was that this meal kit was very useful because the dish is good, but quite difficult to make by yourself. This meal kit was delivered completely cooked in a vacuum sealed plastic wrap. It required only 4 minutes of re-heating in a frying pan with a bit of oil. She added some cabbage and cheese and said was happy because she was able to enjoy a high-quality meal. She pointed out this dish would be hard to make alone, in a short period of time and since it was possible to add more ingredients it was a great option. Deputy Director, Ryu Si-eun bought a Budaejjigae meal kit. This meal kit had all the necessary ingredients for cooking including ham, sausage, kimchi, pork, tofu, green onions, ramen, and mixed seasonings. She said, “the meal kit was more convenient than I thought. Originally, I thought it would be more expensive however, after eating the meal, I realized how much less wasteful it was because there were no ingredients left. The meal kit is made for only one person.” She also said that the reduced cooking times and less dish washing were also big advantages. As a result, she said she is likely to use meal kits more often in the future. DKH reporter, Choi Eun-Ji, bought the meal kit for Cheongju style Jjageul (pork stew) at the mart and ate it. In this meal kit, all the ingredients like vegetables, pork, kimchi, and seasoning were included. She thought it was convenient because the vegetables were already trimmed, but the most important thing for her was the taste. She said it was as good as a very delicious restaurant meal and tasted like it came from home. She also liked the fact that she could control the seasoning or add other ingredients to suit her taste. “I think I will buy it more often in the future,” she added in the interview.
|▲ A Budaejjigae Meal Kit (Photo from Dankook Herald)|
The meal kit market is now in a prosperous option for people working from home because of COVID-19 and for the increasing number of single-person households. The meal kit market size was worth 1.7million dollars in 2017 but has grown to 160 million dollars in 2020. That represents a 400% growth per year in the meal-kit market. Analysts predict it could reach as high as 617 million dollars with a rate of increase of 31% per year until the year 2025. We do not have to see these figures to believe the meal kit market is expanding. You can easily find meal kit stands set up in most marts and meal kit self-service stores. In the beginning, meal kits were limited to Korean home-cooked dishes, but now they have expanded to include Chinese, Japanese and Western food. Meal kits are now including unique recipes, famous dishes from local restaurants and spouting the use of recipes from famous chefs. Due to these efforts, they have grabbed the attention of young people and are considered as good as a homemade meal due to their often-satisfying quality. As a result, the future is very bright for the meal kit market.
Meal kits, which were previously unimaginable, have grown in popularity in recent times. With a desire to shorten meal prep time, reduce waste and eat high quality food, meal kits are drawing the attention of consumers across the nation. It is indisputable that growing population of single-person households and COVID-19 have accelerated the expansion of the meal kit market. They are now one of the better choices we have, when seeking out a meal. It is not unrealistic to soon find yourself asking friends, “Are you coming to eat out with me or staying in to have a meal kit?”
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