Gen. Mills Debuts Meal-Delivery Service Targeting Seniors

Home-delivery service CobornsDelivers will deliver the food company’s 25 frozen-meal options to customers’ front doors.

Food giant General Mills, Inc., said Monday that it has launched a local meal-delivery service that targets seniors—and it’s partnering with St. Cloud-based grocery retailer Coborn’s, Inc., for the distribution of the meals.
Under the name Betty Crocker Kitchens, Golden Valley-based General Mills recently debuted 25 frozen-meal options, including a variety of what it calls “home-style favorites” such as pot roast, meat loaf, chicken dishes, pastas, and breakfast omelets and pancakes. The new meals come in single-serving trays with easy-to-open packaging and have simple heating instructions.
Orders can be placed by phone or online, and online grocery ordering and home-delivery service CobornsDelivers will deliver the meals to customers’ front doors. The minimum order is seven meals, which costs $55.
The service is currently available only in the Twin Cities metro area, and when asked if there are plans to expand it to other cities, General Mills spokeswoman Peggy Snook told Twin Cities Business in an e-mailed response, “We will evaluate how this launch goes before we introduce plans for expanding the new service to other markets.”
General Mills said that the home-delivery service targets seniors and caregivers looking out for their aging parents. Citing the Administration on Aging, the company pointed out that there will be about 72.1 million people in the United States who are age 65 and older in 2030, more than twice the number of citizens in that age group as of 2000. Additionally, 29 percent of the nation’s adult population, or 65.7 million individuals, provide care to someone who is ill, disabled, or elderly.
“As our population ages, we are continually seeking new and innovative ways to serve our customers,” General Mills Marketing Director Martin Abrams said in a statement. “Betty Crocker is a name that so many of us, especially seniors, have grown up with over the decades, and we’re excited to make it even easier for seniors to continue to enjoy Betty’s convenient, great-tasting products and meal solutions.”
The Betty Crocker branding was intentional, as the fictionalized character particularly resonates with the older generations. (In 1921, a predecessor to General Mills invented the name Betty Crocker in order to personalize responses to customer letters—then in 1936, an artist was commissioned to create Betty Crocker’s likeness and the Betty Crocker mascot was born. To read more about Betty Crocker’s history, click here.)
Snook said that the company will mark the launch of the meal-delivery service with local television ads later this month. She confirmed that marketing will also be done through hospitals and other health care providers, and through Google Search—as the company hopes to get Google ad traffic from seniors and children caring for their elderly parents.
According to Snook, General Mills consulted with Park Nicollet employees and patients at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park in order to develop the meal-delivery service.
Park Nicollet spokesman Jeremiah Whitten said Tuesday that Park Nicollet plans to distribute free samples of Betty Crocker Kitchens products to patients as they are discharged, along with information about the service. He said Park Nicollet will receive no compensation for doing so, adding that “We see this as an important service to support our patients and their families.”
General Mills operates in more than 100 countries and is among Minnesota’s 10-largest public companies based on revenue, which totaled $16.7 billion in its most recent fiscal year. Its brands include Cheerios, Fiber One, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, and Wanchai Ferry.
Coborn’s, meanwhile, is an employee-owned company that currently operates 47 grocery stores in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin—and it is among Minnesota’s 20-largest private companies based on revenue, which totaled $1.2 billion in its most recent fiscal year. In addition to its grocery stores, which operate under a handful of banners, it owns CobornsDelivers as well as stand-alone convenience, liquor, video, and pharmacy stores.