Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In Spotlight: Kroger’s Ghost Kitchens and Prepared Foods

Shira Petrack
June 15, 2022 Spotlight: Kroger’s Ghost Kitchens and Prepared Foods

Foot traffic to some of the Kroger Company’s biggest brands may be lagging slightly, but the success of the company’s prepared foods expansion and recently rolled out ghost kitchen collaboration hints at the supermarket giant’s growth potential. 

Kroger Brands YoY & Yo3Y Performance

Following its strong pandemic performance, the grocery sector’s offline visit growth slowed in recent months as inflation and high gas prices continued to strain many consumers’ budgets. Still, nationwide year-over-year (YoY) grocery foot traffic was positive every month between January and May 2022 while year-over-three-years (Yo3Y) foot traffic remained close to pre-pandemic visit levels. 

The Kroger Company operates several supermarket banners including Fred Meyer in the northwest, Harris Teeter in the south Atlantic, Kroger in the midwest and Ralphs in California. Of the four brands, Ralphs posted the strongest visitation trends, with year-over-year (YoY) visits outperforming the wider category average almost every month this year. Meanwhile, Kroger, Fred Meyer, and Harris Teeter saw YoY and Yo3Y visit gaps over the past couple of months, with May 2022 visits to the three brands down by 5.0%, 6.7%, and 2.1% relative to May 2021. 

Still, despite their subdued foot traffic performance, the Kroger Company seems to have a not-so-secret weapon up its sleeve that could bring customers back to its supermarkets. 

Is Home Chef’s Success Driving Kroger Cross-Dining Down? 

Over the past couple of years, Kroger has invested in a variety of partnerships and acquisitions to expand and improve its prepared foods offering. For customers looking to simplify their home cooking, Kroger acquired Chicago-based meal solutions brand Home Chef in 2018 and rolled out the meal kits at select stores later that year. By October 2021, Home Chef products could be purchased at over 2,200 stores under Kroger’s various grocery banners. 

The chart below shows cross-dining data (the share of Kroger customers who also visited dining chains) for four of Kroger customers’ favorite dining chains between January and May 2019 and 2022. In all four cases, cross-dining numbers fell between 2019 and 2022, indicating that fewer Kroger customers visited McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, and Starbucks between January and May 2022 compared to the equivalent timeframe in 2019. 

Many factors are likely contributing to these trends, including consumers’ efforts to cut back on restaurant visits in the face of high inflation and gas prices. Still, at least some of the drop in cross-dining may be attributed to Kroger’s investment in its prepared foods selection. Kroger visitors can now pick up a Starbucks coffee and a variety of meal solutions ranging from ingredient-based kits to “heat and eat” dishes right at the grocery store. At least some customers are likely substituting their previous fast-food runs with Kroger’s prepared foods offerings, which could explain some of the drop in cross-dining.

Kroger’s Ghost Kitchen Partnerships

For customers looking for freshly prepared meals, Kroger has partnered with Kitchen United and ClusterTruck under two different collaboration models that provide diverse takeout and delivery options directly from the supermarket. Both models involve building on-premise ghost kitchens inside Kroger store. But while ClusterTruck offers a range of items under one brand, Kitchen United draws multiple restaurants – similar to a food court model, but without the on-premise dining. 

In our May 2022 Grocery Deep Dive, we looked at Kroger’s ClusterTruck partnerships in Indiana and Ohio and found that the locations with the ClusterTruck ghost kitchen were seeing stronger visit recoveries than neighboring Kroger branches. Foot traffic data indicates that the Kroger-Kitchen United partnerships are showing similar promise. 

Kroger’s First Kitchen United Location - Los Angeles, CA

The first Kroger-Kitchen United collaboration opened in a Los Angeles Ralphs store in early January 2022. Since then, visits to the location have skyrocketed, while foot traffic to nearby Ralphs stores as well as city and statewide Ralphs foot traffic patterns have remained relatively stable. 

Kroger’s Second Kitchen United Location - Houston, TX

In February 2022, Kroger opened its second Kitchen United ghost kitchen in a Houston Kroger-branded supermarket. Looking at the change in monthly visits since January 2022 shows that, since its opening, visits to the Houston Kroger with a Kitchen United ghost kitchen have outpaced nearby Krogers and both Houston-wide and Texas-wide Kroger foot traffic averages.

So far, the ClusterTruck and Kitchen United ghost kitchens only operate in a tiny fraction of Kroger’s massive and nationally distributed store fleet, but foot traffic data from locations with ghost kitchens are already demonstrating the significant gains that come from this concept.   

For more data-driven grocery and retail insights, visit

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
What’s in Store for Self-Storage?
Nike + lululemon Update: Strong Performance Amid Expansion Plans
Many Ways to Win: Midwest Grocery Deep Dive
Retail, Reinvented: The Rise of the Pop-Up Shop
Navigating a New Normal in Business Travel & Commutes Office Index: February 2023 Recap
Retail Categories Staying Strong in Volatile Environment
Ulta Beauty: Poised for Success into 2023 Mall Index February 2023: Reasons for Continued Optimism
Catching Up With DICK’s & Hibbett
The Miami-Dade Arena: An Advertising Slam Dunk
Car Washes Revving Up Visits
Tuesday Morning and Sunrises in Home Furnishing
Dining & Valentine’s Day Recap
2023: The Year of the Discount Store
Aldi’s Success Highlights Growing Demand for Value Groceries
5 Retail & Service Categories Holding onto Pandemic Gains in 2023
Visitor Insights from Super Bowl 2023
2023 First Look: Home Improvement Update
How Are Target, Walmart, and Wholesale Clubs Faring in 2023?
Department Store Deep-Dive: Nordstrom
Off-Price: Taking Off in Uncertain Times
Checking in On Middle-Class Hubs
Who Attends the Super Bowl? Office Index: January 2023 Recap
Focusing On Fitness: Q4 and January Recap Mall Index: January 2023 – Returning Mall Normalcy?
Location Intelligence Insights Into Concert Attendance
Winning Dining Strategies for 2023
In-N-Out Burger: What to Expect as the Brand Moves East
Location Intelligence Breakdown: Coffee Caps-Off 2022
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & Migration Trends
A Location Intelligence Perspective on Macy’s Rightsizing
Amazon-Powered Shopping: The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Grocery?
Cold Weather, Hot Visits: Diving into Winter Resorts
Wawa and 7-Eleven: Leaning Into the “Slurpee Effect”
2022 and Beyond: Catching Up With McDonald’s & Chipotle
Let’s Have Some Fun! Going Out Is In’s Q4 2022 Quarterly Index Adds Industry Executives to Leadership Team To Drive Company's Next Phase of Growth
5 Emerging Retail Formats: 2023’s Brick-and-Mortar Evolution
Grocery Update: Zooming in on the Lone Star State
2022 Office Recap: The Year of the TGIF Work Week
What Lies Ahead for Brick-and-Mortar Luxury in 2023 Mall Indexes: December 2022 Recap
Looking Back on 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
Post-Pandemic Migration Trends in New York
Top Retailers for 2023
The Live Sports Advertising Opportunity
Domestic Migration to the Mountain States: Small Shifts with Big Implications
New Year, New Food: 5 Dining Trends For 2023
This is Why Shop-in-Shops Are Everywhere
Super Saturday 2022 Recap
The San Francisco Shift
Grocery Year-End Update: Publix in the Spotlight
Three Ways Retailers Can Think Small to Increase Store Impact
Offline Beauty Is on an Upswing
The Evolving Migration Patterns of New York’s Florida Snowbirds Office Index: November 2022 Recap
How Viral Social Media Trends Can Drive Offline Engagement
Are You Ready for Some Football? Experiential Marketing Shows Promise
Mall and Shopping Center Trends For 2023
Retail Corridors and Indoor Malls: A Holiday Head-to-Head
Placer Bytes: Nike, lululemon, and GameStop Update Mall Indexes: November 2022 Update
Black Friday 2022: Consumers Hear the Call
Digitally Native Brands: Taking Off, Offline
Discount and Dollar Stores Leading the Pack
Turkey Wednesday 2022
Retail’s Evolving Holiday Season
Placer Bytes: Starbucks and Department Stores Ahead of Black Friday
Ulta: A Force to be Reckoned With
College Towns Drive Dining Growth
Foot Traffic Trends Reveal Consumers Ready for Holiday Cheer
How Retailers Can Win Big By Going Small
How Are Consumers Feeling Ahead of Black Friday 2022?
Off-Price, Hibbett, and Dick’s Pre-Holiday Check-in
Ho, Ho, Wholesale: Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s
October 2022’s Retail Rebound
Target and Walmart Ahead of the Holidays
Home Improvement: Leave it to the Pros
Despite Inflation, Holiday Season is Off to a Good Start Office Index: October 2022 Recap Mall Indexes- October 2022 Update
Americans Double Down on Fitness
The State of Grocery
CVS and Walgreens: The Wave Continues
Coffee Chains Brewing Up Visits Spotlight: Pizza Players
What Drove COVID-Era Urban Migration Trends?
Kroger and Albertsons: A Merging of Strengths
Texas Roadhouse Innovations Dishing Up Success
Holidays on the Horizon: Mid-Range and Luxury Shopping
McDonald's and Chipotle's Post-Pandemic Success
Announcing’s Q3 2022 Quarterly Index
5 Hot Restaurant Brands for 2023
Target Finds a Winning Deals Day Formula
Five Trends to Watch for 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season