CINCINNATI – Retailer Kroger Co., plant-based food product developer Impossible Foods, and Custom Made Meals LLC, a manufacturer of fresh entrees and appetizers for retail, are partnering to develop plant-based products for Kroger’s Home Chef business. 

“We are incredibly proud of our Home Chef brand, which became a $1 billion brand in 2021,” said Stuart W. Aitken, chief merchandising and marketing officer for Kroger Co., during the retailer’s investor day on May 4. “And we’ll continue to expand this brand across our family of companies. Our assortment is connecting with the customer through ready-to-eat meals, rotating seasonal programs, new appetizers as well as our first plant-based protein, in partnership with Custom Made Meals and Impossible (Foods).”

Aitken did not elaborate on what types of products may be in development.

In a note to clients published March 4, Robert Moskow, food and food retail analyst at Credit Suisse, New York, said the line may feature co-branded plant-based meat products.

“The test is still in the early stages, but it looks like it will be similar to the co-branding strategy that Costco’s Kirkland brand uses in the fresh meat case with big suppliers like Tyson,” Moskow wrote.

Moskow went on to note the news of Kroger and Impossible Foods partnering has negative implications for Impossible Foods competitor Beyond Meat Inc.

“We view this test as a threat to Beyond Meat, because it demonstrates the willingness of a big competitor to ‘margin down’ into co-branded private label products in order to maximize the reach of its products,”

Kroger acquired Home Chef in 2018. The brand features more than 500 products across a variety of categories, including meal kits, heat-and-eat meals, ready-to-eat products, and seasonal meals, among others.

“If you look at the merger with Home Chef, (it) would be an example of where we really tried to find the company that had capabilities that we didn’t, but you can leverage the assets they have within the Kroger infrastructure plus help them accelerate their growth,” said William Rodney McMullen, chairman and chief executive officer of Kroger, during the investor day conference. “And those are the types of things that we’re looking at because it really does create a win-win-win.”