Coca-Cola enters meal kit market with Chef’d partnership: ‘Beverages are an integral part of the meal occasion’

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Beef Short Rib Tacos with Coca-Cola - one of the new meal kits
Beef Short Rib Tacos with Coca-Cola - one of the new meal kits

Related tags Flavor Food

As consumers continue to seek new flavors and experiences, Coca-Cola is exploring the booming US meal kit market in a new partnership with Chef’d that offers co-branded meal kits with complementary Coca-Cola brands. 

Chef’d, an online meal kit marketplace, and Coca-Cola have developed the meal kits that include ingredients for meals as well as providing a matching Coca-Cola brand such as Dasani, Coca-Cola, and Gold Peak sweet tea.

Coca-Cola identifies an increase in the number of people enjoying meals at home, along with an increasing number of ‘foodies’ interested in new foods and flavors and the pairing of food and beverages.

Coca-Cola: ‘We want to go where our consumers are going’

'As people look for convenient meal solutions we want our brands to be part of that'

John Carroll, VP eCommerce, Coca-Cola North America

Meal kits – which include portioned ingredients and easy instructions – are becoming more and more popular with busy consumers who are looking for a healthier alternative to take-out food. According to Nielsen, 25% of Americans have purchased a meal kit in the last 12 months.  

The new ‘Refreshing Meal Inspirations’ – co-branded by Chef’d and Coca-Cola – are available nationwide online at Chef’, with the meal coming with pre-portioned ingredients and the beverage, and delivered to the home as soon as 24 hours later.

Meal kits and their beverage pairings include: Grilled BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Potato Salad and Corn with Gold Peak sweet tea; and Beef Short Rib Tacos with Coca-Cola.

Meal kits

Delivered direct to homes or picked up from stores, meal kits include portioned ingredients and easy instructions, so consumers can skip extensive meal preparation.

They are attractive for those paying attention to their diet; and offer time savings in shopping and preparation.

25% of Americans have purchased a meal kit over the last year; 70% continue to buy them after their first purchase.

Millennials & Generation X consumers are 321% more likely to buy meal kits than older generations; as are busy families with children.

Nielsen, The Mindset of the Meal Kit consumer, 2017.​ 

John Carroll, General Manger / VP, eCommerce for Coca-Cola North America, told this publication that, although the company has experimented with sampling beverages with meal kits and eCommerce meal pairings, the partnership with Chef’d is its first commercial activity in the meal kit space.

“Beverages are an integral part of the meal occasion, and Coca-Cola has a rich and long history of complementing and enhancing great meals,” ​he said. 

“As people look for more convenient meal solutions we want our brands to be part of that. Meal Kits are one of the fastest growing food categories today, so it makes sense for us to partner with the breadth and depth of our leading portfolio of brands.”

Through this kind of eCommerce environment with Chef’d, Coca-Cola is able to engage with their target market, provide them with an experience and build brand relationships, he said.  

“Our Chef’d partnership is a best in class example of collaborating with a partner on how to bring ice cold sampling and elevated meal pairings to life,” ​he said. 

“By working with Chef'd, we're able to deliver fresh pre-portioned ingredients straight to people’s door and provide a meal pairing experience in the comfort of their own home.

“We are working with digital and eCommerce partners in other areas to accomplish similar objectives. We want to go where our consumers are going.”

Making it easy to try new things

Coca-Cola identifies the opportunity to target the at-home experience: seeking the number of people eating dinner at home on the rise, and with nine out of ten dinner occasions including the consumption of a non-alcoholic beverage.

Coca-COla Chicken and Mushroom Marsala01
Chicken and Mushroom Marsala with Gold Peak unsweet tea

However, during meals people usually chose to drink from the limited selection they have available at home – so providing a drink with the meal kit makes it easy to explore new ideas.

Meanwhile, there is an increase in the number of foodies who want an enriched eating experience.

“Consumers, especially millennials, seek out new foods and flavors, including beverages, and by including the beverage with the meal, we’re making it easy for them to try new flavors and add depth and complexity to their favorite foods,”​ explained Carroll.

What foods go best with Coca-Cola?

With this in mind, Coca-Cola has been investigating what beverages pair best with foods and how flavors can complement each other.

“Decisions about food and beverage pairings have always been complex, as people are thinking about the occasion and the taste profile of their meal,” ​said Carroll.

“These decisions will continue to get more complex as the range of beverage types and flavors continue to grow, offering people more choices than ever before, welcoming recommendations for finding the perfect choice and accompaniment for their meal.”

Therefore, Coca-Cola has been researching which foods and beverages pair well together for the meal kits.

“For example, when eating spicy foods, a beverage with a subtle sweetness provides a great balance to the flavor experience,” ​said Carroll. 

“We also found that beverages with a light citrus flavor enhance robust flavors such as garlic or balances out the spiciness of seasonings such as sriracha sauce.

"We also work with a panel of culinary advisers who provide a lot of input and insight into complexities and subtleties of flavor palates and pairings for an elevated meal experience.”

Refreshing Meal Inspirations

Grilled BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Potato Salad and Corn; paired with Gold Peak sweet tea

 The home-brewed taste of Gold Peak connects you to the comforting feeling of home and is the inspiration for this delicious meal. The sweetness of Gold Peak tea complements the salty vinegar notes of the BBQ flavor for a perfect pairing.”

Shrimp Yakisoba; paired with Dasani sparkling blood orange

The crisp, bubbly taste of DASANI Sparkling Blood Orange was the inspiration for this meal. Its slightly tart flavor offers the perfect balance to the spiciness of the Sriracha sauce and will keep your taste buds refreshed between bites.”

Bacon Cheeseburger with Gruyere Cheese & Maple Onion Confit; paired with Coca-Cola Life.

Coca-Cola Life, which is sweetened with cane sugar and stevia leaf extract, has a subtle sweetness found that complements the juicy and savory flavors found in this gourmet twist on the traditional burger.”

Roasted Half Chicken with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Swiss Chard; paired with Dasani sparkling meyer lemon

The crisp, bubbly taste of DASANI Sparkling Meyer Lemon enhances the robust flavors of this dish. The effervescent and refreshing taste balances the strong flavors of the garlic mashed potatoes and Swiss chard.”

Beef Short Rib Tacos; paired with Coca-Cola

The bubbly, uplifting taste of Coca-Cola will bring happiness to your taste buds as you sip it between bites of these delicious tacos. The classic Coca-Cola flavor, with its sparkling finish, enhances the boldness of the BBQ flavor in the beef short ribs.”

Chicken and Mushroom Marsala with Goat Cheese and Pasta; paired with Gold Peak unsweet tea

The home-brewed, mild taste of Gold Peak perfectly complements creamy comfort food, like this fresh take on the traditional Chicken Marsala.” 

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