Meal solutions will continue to play a huge role in the fresh perimeter of the future, but they will definitely look different from today’s solutions, said Rick Stein, vice president of fresh for Arlington, Va.-based FMI – The Food Industry Association.

For instance, the notion of the “meal kit” will likely change entirely — if not become altogether obsolete.

“Meal kits, in my opinion, the concept is spot on, but operationalizing it has been very difficult,” Stein said.

One of the main problems: it’s hard to convince consumers to buy unless they’re fans of all of the ingredients in the kit. If they’re not — the protein and carb are fine, but they’re not asparagus fans — they’re likely not going to buy it.

“There’s too much shrink, and it’s hard for retailers to make money on them. Meal kits aren’t nearly as big as they were five years ago.”

But that doesn’t change the fact, Stein said, that the idea behind meal kits from the fresh perimeter — helping consumers meet their needs for convenience and, at the same time, for flavor and healthfulness — is an excellent idea, one of the best.

“The concept resonates with consumers. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a kit. It can be an ideation. The retailer gives you the concept and ideas, and you collect the items on your own.”