June 29, 2018 / 6:13 AM / 20 days ago

HelloFresh may sell ready-made meals online -CEO

FRANKFURT, June 29 (Reuters) - German meal-kit delivery firm HelloFresh may start selling ready-made meals to tap into demand from consumers who prefer not to cook, co-founder Thomas Griesel told a German newspaper.

HelloFresh, which competes with U.S. rival Blue Apron , delivers pre-packaged meal ingredients aimed at making home cooking more accessible.

"We see a very big market niche for ready-made meals. The quality and freshness of what is currently available is questionable. That could be an interesting option for us," Griesel was quoted as saying by the Rheinische Post newspaper on Friday.

Side-stepping direct competition with the TV dinners on offer at supermarkets, HelloFresh would offer ready-made meals via the internet, he said.

HelloFresh already offers some ready-made meals and snacks in vending machines in corporate offices. So far that service is available only in Berlin, but Griesel said HelloFresh now planned to expand it nationwide.

He also brushed off the idea that HelloFresh and rival Blue Apron could merge, saying it was "extremely unlikely".

"We have enough going on at the moment that we want to concentrate on," he said.

Speculation it could be acquired has supported Blue Apron's stock in the past, although the shares remain down 70 percent from the company's initial public offering last year, as analysts show concern about competition from Amazon.com and other retail heavyweights.

Reporting by Maria Sheahan; editing by Jason Neely

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