Land O'Lakes tests fresh meal kits

In May, a new contender in the burgeoning home meal replacement category quietly appeared in the refrigerated produce section of Chicago-area grocery stores.

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Perfect Timings(TM) meal kits from Land O'Lakes include fresh, pre-cut vegetables, a sauce and a sidedish of dried pasta or rice. "All you need to do is sautee some chicken breasts and then add the sauce," Lydia Botham, director of Land O'Lakes test kitchens, tells PW. Recipe instructions included in the kit direct consumers to simultaneously boil the rice or pasta and microwave the veggies in the bag after poking a few holes in it. "It's perfectly timed so that it all comes out together in about 20 minutes," says Botham. Land O'Lakes, which is including television advertising as part of its Chicago test, is revealing nothing about packaging or shelf life. The rice, sauce and vegetables are individually packed in clear film pouches, themselves contained in a clear PET clamshell. The clamshell contains attractively printed labels with photo vignettes showing the finished meal. Presumably the fresh vegetable pouch is composed of a material that would allow the goods to respire. The product retails for $5.99 (not including meat) and serves four.

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