Some final thoughts for the year

As the year comes to a close, a few thoughts come to mind about the meal prep industry, and those "industry leaders", Dream Dinners and Super Suppers.

Dream Dinners has been using their blogs to promote Dr. Brent, but how does that benefit owners?

Personally, I had to ask just who this Dr. Brent was. The answer? He’s a farmer, who Vanity Fair thinks is sexy.

Mind you, I see nothing wrong with Dr. Brent or his ideology, in fact they sound pretty good, but I’m just wondering how constantly promoting him promotes the meal assembly industry and helps the struggling store owner in this down economy.

If Dream Dinners can promote Dr. Brent, who doesn’t seem to have any affiliation with meal assembly, how come there isn’t a section on asking their dietician for help and guidance? It would seem a little more "grass roots" to me if they turned to someone within their own ranks. It’s certainly possible I missed it (perhaps that chef touched tips site is a gem and has all the answers), but so far, I’m not seeing it.

Why is Dream Dinners using the same marketing materials they used 3 years ago? (I think the pictures are even the same) If it didn’t work back then, what makes them think it will work now? Do they figure everyone has just forgotten? Is this what they’re spending all that marketing money on; free blogs and rehashed brochure material? Not to mention the free Twitter and Facebook accounts (that again seem to promote Dr. Brent more than anything else). Hmm, what is Dream Dinners actually paying for?

Dream Dinners is acting as though Dinners for Life is a new idea and new company, not just a menu change from their original idea. Remember how owners thought it was just a "test"? Dream Dinners couldn’t con(vince) busy mom’s to latch onto their idea but now they expect to con(vince) diabetics (who probably have even less time and stamina to stand around and make meals) that what they’re offering is a good idea? I recall Dream Dinners promoting their "heart healthy" menu, how did that work out for them? Did it bring in droves of new customers through the doors?

Where is the Dream Dinners iPhone/iPod Touch app? Considering this is the device for the person on the go (and is selling like wildfire), how come none of the meal prep companies have made a way to order while on the go? Pizza Hut managed to figure out how to do it.

Companies like Dell have been able to bring in an estimated $3 million in sales using Twitter. What has Dream Dinners corporate accomplished with their account and its 380 followers?

As an aside, the SuperSuppers account on Twitter isn’t even owned by Super Suppers HQ, it’s used by a forward thinking store owner. Just another example of how technology challenged the meal prep industry is. We can’t all be hairdressers I suppose. Kind of also makes you think Super Suppers really isn’t in the game anymore, doesn’t it?

What do owners plan to do when Dream Dinners drops below 100 stores (thereby having only half the stores open they used to have, or a 50% failure rate)? Considering how things are going this should happen within the next 90 to 120 days. Escape plan anyone? Golden parachute? Bankruptcy attorney on speed dial?

What will owners do if Dream Dinners corporate loses the $30 million lawsuit? That court case has to be resolved some time.

With Super Supper barely clinging to 60 stores, do owners have a plan for the corporate office declaring bankruptcy? Since they really don’t seem to have a leader anyway, will there actually be much difference?

Besides the obvious store closings the meal assembly industry is in pretty sad shape. There are so many missed opportunities and oversights. Those in charge clearly don’t have the business savvy to turn this ship around let alone keep it on a steady course. A steady course in this case would be smashing into an iceberg. It’s questions like these that would make me cringe and keep me awake at night.

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5 Responses to “Some final thoughts for the year”

  • guest:

    Tuckerbox – you hit the nail on the head. DD is behind the times and stuck in the trap of a fad that never gained long term traction.

    One point that you didn’t make that I think is relevant is that the DD websites refer to “fresh” ingredients that are washed and chopped and ready for assembly. Other than the occasional sliced green onions or rare (and minimal quantity) celery or carrot slices, “fresh” ingredients are seldom found. The ingredients are canned, commercially frozen, or otherwise pre-prepared. Vegetables such as broccoli are previously frozen, thawed for assembly, and then re-frozen at home. The DD team may consider dumping frozen vegetables from a bag into assembly station containers “freshly prepared” but most consumers know better.

    Another fallacy is the “value” of DD. In my area, portion prices run $5 – $6; hardly a bargain for a small entree with no side dishes.

    I can’t see any way this concept will survive.

  • Guest:

    Does that mean you will be shutting your website?

  • A very good point and it brings up a debate that has been going on right from the beginning. The meal prep industry never truly provided “fresh” ingredients to the consumer. They were almost always delivered frozen and were assembled into the meals while still frozen. Let’s also not forget Dream Dinners claim to fame which was the can of soup poured over the top of the meal to add flavor. While this is a perfectly acceptable thing to do at home and most of us have no issue with it, it’s nothing something you would expect when paying extra to assemble meals.

    Plus it was also hard to defend fresh to customers when most every ingredient used came from a can or was freeze dried (specifically the spices). And as you say, when you’re now paying $5-$6 a portion it’s not what customers are paying for.

    Would things change if everyone switched over to nothing but fresh ingredients? That’s hard to say. It was certainly tried by many independent stores, but it didn’t gain them much customer base from what I can see.

    And make no mistake, the site isn’t going anywhere.

  • guest:

    Issue I have is with the misrepresentation – I read about fresh ingredients but got cream of something soup, frozen vegetables, and dried herbs. Why advertise one thing but actually deliver something of lower quality?

    Makes you question the integrity of the company.

  • mother load:

    We ALL should question the Integrity of Dream Dinners. Stealing the Dinners for Life idea from a store owner, turning around and re-branding as if Tina & Stephanie came up with it on their own, is just plain WRONG!

    My daily prayer is that the lawsuit shuts them down. They do not have nothing but lies and have robbed and cheated store owners out of millions of dollars.

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