Are Meal Delivery Kits The New Takeout?

Are Meal Kits The New Takeout?

More and more Americans are opting for faster, healthier dinners – presumably in the form of meal kits. Within the last few years, HelloFresh, Blue Apron, Martha & Marley Spoon, Plated, and several other companies have been offering subscription-based, do-it-yourself meals, complete with perfectly portioned ingredients, recipe cards, and a monthly bill. And, according to a new study, the trend is expected to keep growing.

In 2016, market research firm Packaged Facts estimated that the U.S. meal kit delivery services market will generate “approximately $1.5 billion in sales in 2016 and will grow to a multi-billion dollar market over the next few years.” According to the report, the companies that started the meal kit trend have only been in the U.S. since 2012. Now, according to Eater, there are more than 150 brands bridging the gap between momma’s cooking and takeout.

Results of the 2016 Packaged Facts survey showed that a surprisingly high number (16 percent) of those who participated said they ordered prepare-at-home meal kits on a regular basis.

“These days, consumers have access to almost everything without leaving their home and – through the power of smartphones – without even speaking to another human being. Rather than worrying whether meal kit delivery services will cut into their business, some grocers and food marketers are taking the bull by the horns and starting their own such services,” Packaged Facts’ Research Director, David Sprinkle said in an official press release.

In 2016, Food industry analyst, Technomic Inc., also predicted a rise in the U.S. meal kit market, claiming the market could grow by as much as $5 billion over the next decade. According to Melissa Abbott, of the Hartman Group, consumers especially millennials feel “empowered” because they are not only being “taught” how to create something, but are being included in the “conversation.”

“There is a feeling of a lack of accomplishment, especially among millennials who feel like it’s a solid effort just to get frozen ravioli cooked and a bagged salad together,” Abbott told The New York Times.“They say these meal kits are teaching them how to cook so they can participate in the conversation and feel empowered.”

In hopes of attracting younger customers, Whole Foods Market Inc., began selling a downsized version of Purple Carrot’s plant-based meal kits last October. These smaller boxes, priced at $19.99 each, contained enough ingredients to create a single meal for two people.

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“Over the last year, we’ve listened to the feedback of our busy consumers who also wanted to find our products on grocery shelves,” Andy Levitt, founder and CEO of Purple Carrot told Boston Business Journal.

“With that in mind, we have created a new product so people can pick up their meal kits when they shop at Whole Foods Market.”

According to the Boston Business Journal, Whole Foods originally approached the meal kit service about a potential partnership in the spring of 2015, hoping to provide customers with more convenient options “without the sacrifice of quality and nutrition.”

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“We remain the only meal kit company with an exclusive focus on plant-based food, and it is part of our story and the broader ethos of our company,” Levitt said in an interview with Foodtank.

“There is a preponderance of data that supports the rationale for eating plants, and we’ve really just scratched the surface on how big of an impact we can make with our service.”

Purple Carrot currently offers two delivery subscriptions – a one-to-two-person plan for $68/week and a three-to-four-person plan for $74/week. With the first plan, customers receive three meals per week, whereas the second plan only offers two meals per week.

According to the Purple Carrot website, each meal is shipped in a recyclable box filled with recipe cards, step-by-step instructions, and photographs to help you prepare the perfect meal in 40 minutes or less.

Unboxing your Purple Carrot meal kit is half the fun. What are you most looking forward to cooking this week?

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[Featured Image by Joern Pollex/Getty Images]

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