- Meal kits have been in the spotlight because of their fresh appeal and convenience, but could shoppable recipes provide even bigger gains for brick-and-mortar and online grocers? That’s the question posed by RetailWire in a recent post.
- Citing AmazonFresh’s November partnership with EatLove, a personalized nutrition and meal planning service, RetailWire notes this method of meal planning may provide customers with more options to customize their food at a lower cost.
- Amazon has also forged partnerships with Allrecipes and Fexy Media, and eMeals, while Walmart recently countered with an exclusive deal with Buzzfeed's Tasty, the world's biggest social food network.
What’s for dinner?
Meal kits are becoming an increasingly popular answer to this question. The delivery system caters to consumer demand for omnichannel convenience, with online as well as in-store options now available. For those who wanted to get out of a cooking rut, meal kits give consumers a chance to experiment with new recipes, but with the ease of having all of the ingredients packaged precisely for that specific recipe. Most meal kits can also be quickly prepared, and companies like Blue Apron and now Kroger are focused on cutting prep time even further.
This combination of convenience and access to premium ingredients has fueled the industry's rapid growth — the meal kit sector is projected to reach $10 billion within the next few years, as the concept appeals to virtually all consumer demographics.
But an alternative to the meal kit concept could provide consumers even more options. Shoppable recipes enable consumers to select online recipes, shop the ingredients from an online grocer, and have them delivered or be available for store pickup. This method increases the number of recipes available, and allows the customer to make changes as desired, creating meals that meet specific nutritional plans.
One complaint about meal kits is the excess packaging used by manufacturers to keep each portioned ingredient fresh. Shoppable recipes address this by delivering products in their original grocery packaging. Also, since the ingredients aren’t pre-portioned or cut for a specific recipe, production costs are lower — a savings that is passed on to consumers. EatLove and eMeals say their shoppable recipe systems provide meal kit results at a 50% savings.
On the other hand, pre-portioned ingredients offer an element of efficiency and convenience that may not come through with shoppable recipes. If a customer only needs a half cup of chopped almonds for a particular recipe, they have to buy an entire bag of almonds through shoppable marketing, whereas meal kits deliver that specific amount — and sometimes pre-chopped.
The shoppable recipes concept seems to be picking up steam. AmazonFresh's partnership with AllRecipes caught consumer and industry attention, and taps into Amazon's 80 million Prime users — many of whom are hungry for new eating experiences. Walmart's deal with Buzzfeed's Tasty, the world's biggest social food network, followed shortly after. Starting next year, Walmart.com and Jet.com will integrate groceries with Tasty’s 2,000-plus recipe videos.
Some say the choice between meal kits and shopper recipes isn’t an either/or proposition. Meal kits may be for those who want a tasty meal, but who may not want to work too hard for a result. Shoppable recipes may be more appealing to those who already enjoy cooking and want an easy way to learn additional ways to prepare food. As meal kits and shoppable recipes grow in popularity, time will tell if there’s enough room on the table for both to thrive.