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May 1, 2023

Premium frozen meals, like those from Deep Indian Kitchen, are seeing wins as consumers look for value from the grocery industry

There are undoubtedly some great benefits to getting takeout — no shopping for ingredients, no prep, it comes to your door, it unlocks meals and cuisines many of us can’t make ourselves — but these benefits can be considered ‘frills’ that some of us are choosing to cut in this economy. Multiple studies1 published on many outlets describe anywhere from 50 to 80% of the people surveyed are spending less on restaurant meals. 

For some that might mean skipping restaurant meals — a report by the NPD Group put typical restaurant meals at 3.4x the cost of in-home meals bought from retail.2 Brands that make premium frozen and prepared meals and the retailers carrying their products can help by offering them as a more affordable alternative to restaurant meals. 

Restaurant-quality premium frozen meals can satisfy the same wants and desires that have consumers perusing the takeout menu — they don’t require all the prep and cleanup of cooking at home from scratch, they’re ready faster, and they can be delivered via Instacart in as fast as 1 hour. 

And just like takeout, premium frozen meals can provide consumers with a window into other types of food and cuisines that are either new to them or beyond their cooking skill. Taking an informal poll of the office, few were confident they could make a halfway decent masala or curry and none of us could make naan or samosas. 

But if we wanted to have a delicious meal tonight of curry and naan we could, by ordering some of Deep Indian Kitchen’s premium frozen meals through our favorite grocery retailer on Instacart. 

Deep Indian Kitchen, one of our valued brand partners that we’ve previously featured in this blog, are in a unique position to examine this idea of replacing restaurant meals with premium frozen meals delivered to your door. They have several product lines of premium Indian food — entrees, naan, and samosas — which they sell as both premium frozen meals through grocery stores and feature on the menus of their chain of fast-casual restaurants. 

With the same quality food going to their restaurants and the grocery retailers carrying their products, Deep Indian Kitchen has always affirmed the importance of making authentic, superior quality Indian food more accessible. For them, this means making their meals from scratch using no artificial ingredients and family recipes from India, passed down from generations. Recently they have started highlighting the affordability of their premium frozen meals as a way to better serve their customers during the current economic conditions. 

“Consumers today are looking for authentic global flavor experiences, convenience and value.  While premium restaurant-quality frozen meals are more expensive than base frozen meals, only premium meals deliver restaurant experiences at a third of the price.  We, Instacart and our retailer partners can capture trade-down by recreating the Indian restaurant occasion in merchandising, promotions and communications.  In doing so, we can help shoppers save money by comparison.”  —Kiernan Laughlin – GM, Deep Indian Kitchen

Growth of premium frozen meals 

Data and industry insights support Deep’s approach to position their restaurant-quality premium frozen meals as a more affordable alternative to restaurant meals. When comparing the dollar growth within frozen entrees, premium restaurant-quality frozen meals grew more than 2x the category. This growth was also accelerating.3 

A chart showing restaurant quality entrees growing faster than the overall category in the last 42, 24, 12, and 4 weeks

When we looked at our own internal data, several subcategories of the prepared meals category had notable growth recently. Specifically, when we compared the share of orders from grocery retailers that the different subcategories of prepared foods were in during 2022 and 2023 we saw notable order share percentage growth for many subcategories — including, notably for Deep Indian Kitchen, prepared Indian food — that replace common takeout orders.4

These subcategories had significant order share growth outside of the normal seasonal trends we have seen across 2021, 2022, and the start of 2023; prepared burgers and prepared tamales both had their order share grow by ~50% in 2023. Five others had double-digit order share growth in 2023.

“Due to its layers of flavor and the complexity required to make it yourself, Indian cuisine is trending in the frozen aisle.  Deep Indian Kitchen has been able to drive especially strong, incremental growth through Instacart by helping new consumers discover our authentic and modern way to experience India at home – in minutes.” —Kiernan Laughlin – GM, Deep Indian Kitchen

While this article has talked specifically about Deep Indian Kitchen’s approach, and the wider prepared meals category, there are lessons for many CPGs and the retailers who carry their products. Around the importance of satisfying needs through product quality and providing value through affordability; how reframing questions and shifting contexts can be a path to attracting and delighting consumers. As Deep Indian Kitchen proved— No takeout? No problem. 

Interested in advertising on Instacart? Get started today. Hungry for some homestyle Indian cooking? Shop Deep Indian Kitchen’s full line of products from a retailer near you on Instacart.

1 Survey: Dining Out Less Often Due to Inflation | LendingTree; Some consumers are cutting back on restaurant spending, but CEOs say not all chains are affected; Consumers say inflation is causing them to eat out less often

2 America’s Eating Patterns Adjusted to a Pandemic and Are Now Adapting to Higher Food Costs – The NPD Group

3 Source:  SPINS/IRI, Total US-MULO, Frozen Meals & Entrees Meat & Poultry & Seafood and Frozen Meals & Entrees Vegetable, Dol Vol % Chg Yago, 52, 24, 12 and 4 weeks ending 2/26/23. Frozen Meals & Entree brands included in ‘restaurant’ group: Deep Indian Kitchen, Rao’s, PFChang’s, Boston Market, Lulu Restaurant, TGI Friday’s, Frontera, Benihana.

4 Namely prepared deli salads, prepared sandwiches and wraps, party platters, prepared pasta meals, prepared deli sushi, poke, prepared tamales, prepared Indian food, and prepared burgers.

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