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State of the Plate

Your serving of field-to-fork news.

May 232017

Mail Order Meal Kits—and the Future of Dinner?

When most Americans think of mail order meal kit services, Linas Matkasse isn't one of the 150+ available companies that readily comes to mind. 

However, two US packaged pioneers,  Blue Apron, and HelloFresh, who launched operations in 2012, credit their inspiration to the company that began delivering doorstep dinners to busy Swedes in 2008.

A recent report from the publisher "Packaged Facts" notes that the meal kit delivery services have exploded, offering a convenient way to enjoy a home-cooked meal without the need to recipe shop and plan. 

With so much growth on the horizon, will meal kits change the way Americans shop and eat? How food is processed or even grown?

Although currently a darling amongst investors, meal kit services face obstacles and they continue to grow and scale.   

Supply Chain Logistics: It’s All in the Timing

An article from Inbounind Logistics reports that the growth of residential deliveries has lowered carrier costs, creating ideal shipping conditions for mail order services. 

But transportation is only part of the equation. Fresh ingredients are part of the meal appeal and many companies find it challenging to find suppliers to source ingredients.

As mail order meal services work through logistics issues, grocery stores and restaurants are stepping up.

Grocery Stores, Restaurants and Income in a Box

Whole Foods recently partnered with mail order meal kit provider PurpleCarrot.  For now, shoppers in select locations can pick up a box of pre-portioned ingredients, a recipe card and cooking directions at the price of $20 for each 2-person kit. Both companies hope to encounter new markets through this partnership.

Some restaurants, such as StripHouse,  recognized the income generating appeal of kits early on. StripHouse has been offering special weekend meal kits to restaurant goers for years, selling 20-30 $250 “Steak to Go” kits per week. Kits come with specially prepared steaks, seasoning, recipe cards and grill tips. 

Meal Kits: Fad or Trend?

So, are mail order meal kits the future of food?  NPD’s food-service market research found in-store dining and take-out prepared foods from grocers has grown 30% over the past eight years.

With grocery store prepared food purchases hitting the $10 billion dollar mark in 2015 and the restaurant industry making up $800 billion of the US economy, the $3-$5 billion growth of meal kits over five years doesn’t feel like a threat to conventional shopping and eating habits … for now.

C|O Insight

One trend that we’re sure of? Consumers today are seeking convenience. 

With so many options available at the click of a mouse or a trip to the market, we see enormous growth potential for those involved in all phases of the food system. 

Looking to make your mark on the future of food?  Our crew at Charleston|Orwig, a full-service marketing agency, is dedicated to those who grow, harvest, process, package, distribute, market, and dispose of food. We’d like to hear your story. Contact Mark Gale at mgale@charlestonorwig.com or call 262.563.5129.

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