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Kroger muscles in on ghost-kitchen space with expanded ClusterTruck partnership

Food retailer adds two Midwest locations that offer fresh-prepared meals for delivery, pickup

A partnership between Kroger and ClusterTruck will bring restaurant-style meals and ghost kitchens to two additional grocery stores in the Midwest. Kroger stores in Fishers, Ind. and Dublin, Ohio will host ClusterTruck kitchens, providing customers hot meals with no service charges or delivery fees. ClusterTruck operates technology-equipped ghost kitchens that deliver food in a radius of seven miles and mostly under 30 minutes.

This new stage in the partnership expands beyond the pilot, which launched in December in Carmel and Indianapolis, Indiana and Columbus, Ohio. Now, Kroger will repurpose a 1,000 square-foot parcel in each of the newly-selected supermarkets to accommodate ClusterTruck’s operations in a brand-forward way. With on-premise kitchens at Kroger stores, these hybrid ghost-kitchens will prepare over 80 meals for in-store pickup and delivery.

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For Kroger’s customers, the expanded deployment of ClusterTruck kitchens provides additional digital ordering options that complement the food retailer’s pickup, delivery, and ship-to-home grocery channels. In the backdrop of the pandemic and a digital sales-lift of 127 percent in the second quarter of 2020, the growing Kroger-ClusterTruck partnership appears to be well-timed.

With about 17 percent of restaurant outlets closing by year’s end, the growth and evolution of prepared meal options at supermarkets is another challenge for the industry. Advancements like the Kroger’s project re-emphasize the importance of restaurants preparing their own game plan with a robust off-premises strategy to make it to the other side of New Year’s eve.

For Kroger’s customers, the expanded deployment of ClusterTruck kitchens provides additional digital-forward options that complement the food retailer’s pickup, delivery, and ship to home with respect to groceries.
Customers can order meals for in-store pickup or delivery. Photo by ClusterTruck.

Consumers continue to be comfortable and acclimated ordering food from the comfort of their homes, restaurant operators need to be able to concurrently operate their brands virtually and on-premises. Grocery chains have done well with prepared meals programs and Kroger says its customers can order sit-down restaurant-quality food as a result of the expanding program.

“The new on-premise kitchen, in partnership with ClusterTruck, is an innovation that streamlines ordering, preparation and delivery, supporting Kroger as we meet the sustained customer demand for quick, fresh restaurant-quality meals, especially as we navigate an unprecedented health crisis that has affected every aspect of our lives, including mealtime,” said Dan De La Rosa, Kroger’s group vice president of fresh merchandising.

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The Fishers, Ind. location at 9799 East 116th Street opened, while the second kitchen will open in Dublin, Ohio at 7625 Sawmill Road later this year.

Photo credit: ClusterTruck (featured preview image, inline)

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