eMeals is partnering with media conglomerate Meredith Corp. to offer access to its meal planning app and weekly recipes for users and subscribers of websites Allrecipes and EatingWell, as well as Better Homes & Gardens magazine.
The arrangement, launched on Monday, also gives these Meredith subscribers access to eMeals' one-click shopping list generating tool and its options for grocery pickup at Walmart Grocery and Kroger ClickList locations, or delivery options via AmazonFresh and Instacart.
Memberships start at $5 per month and include seven meals each week chosen by nutritionists and editors on staff with each of the publications, according to CNET. Members then choose their options through the eMeals app, depending on their particular menu plan.
This partnership could be a huge boost for eMeals, a pioneer in the meal planning business that has been around for more than a decade. Meredith's legions of subscribers might be enough to take the meal plan company to the next level. CNET reported that Allrecipes alone has more than 80 million users.
eMeals CEO Forrest Collier told Food Dive the partnership is a way for the firm to leverage its digital meal plan platform and use Meredith's content for a "co-branded concept" for users. He said the company already has 20,000 recipes organized by 15 different menu plans but will benefit on the visual side from the additional content.
The tool is designed for those who want to plan meals for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — the typical days people cook at home — and to have a curated experience through the meal planning app. Another asset is having consolidated grocery lists on the app showing the correct amounts of ingredients required for a given recipe and, at the user's decision, simply clicking to send the list to the chosen retailer.
"Two or three recipes with 30 ingredients get passed from our app to Walmart, Kroger, Instacart or Amazon," Collier told Food Dive. "You can maintain a card, whether you went through our app or went to Walmart.com, and it's going to remember that until you either delete it or complete a purchase."
eMeals has been growing during the past couple of years, both internally and through partnerships, he said. This initiative should be a manageable growth curve for the company.
"Our average customer is someone who may or may not know how to cook or may or may not enjoy it," he said. "They feel pressure to put meals on the table every night. If [they] have a gluten-free child or a diabetic spouse or a weight goal, we put those resources out there."
The eMeals revenue model also is a much more manageable operation thanks to its digital platform — unlike a meal kit company whose services require the measuring and prepping of food and then assembling and delivering prepackaged meals.
"The key is we aren't recreating the grocery ecosystem. If we were building warehouses, it would be pretty intensive. Since it's a digital product, it leverages well and can scale up easily," Collier said. He added that eMeals has additional partnerships in the works, although he did not provide any details.
The meal planning platform pioneer seems to be on the cutting edge of the space and, as similar platforms emerge, is looking for ways to boost its membership ranks and offer more to the consumer.
Other meal plan companies have differentiated themselves by a specialized menu focus or by pricing and other marketing elements. PlateJoy recently launched an app focused on diabetes prevention recipes, while Dinner Daily devises weekly menus based on where users like to shop. EatLove is a personalized nutrition and meal planning program that recently partnered with AmazonFresh. And Walmart has developed an exclusive partnership with Buzzfeed Tasty, a huge food network jammed with video recipes.
The meal plan market is proving successful with consumers who want practical menus that fit in with their nutritional needs, especially as they cook more of their food at home. With the right content at the right price, they are likely to attract new members who appreciate the convenience and the time-saving aspects of these services.