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Food Trends Grocery Products

The State of the Meal Delivery Space: Who’s Thriving, Who’s Been Bought Out, and Who is Closed for Good

Over the past few years, the meal delivery space has matured from a quirky idea into a booming industry. 

CNBC reports that more than 150 companies are competing “nationally, regionally and locally, all fighting for their share of the $1.5 billion market.”

If you like to stay up to date on the latest industry trends, or if you’re thinking about trying a new meal kit yourself, here are three things you should know about the state of the meal delivery space.

1. Grocery stores have joined the party.

Photo: I5 Design & Manufacture

When early movers like German-based HelloFresh and U.S. competitor Blue Apron burst onto the scene, grocery stores saw them as a threat. Meal kits were promising a simpler way to serve home-cooked meals — by delivering pre-portioned ingredients right to your door. 

But as the industry has matured, grocery stores have actually proven to be very synergistic with meal kits. It turns out, while many people can’t break the habit of driving to the supermarket, they do love the idea of easy-to-prepare meals with pre-portioned ingredients. This has led many supermarket chains to actually start offering meal kits in their stores. 

For example, Publix created their own Aprons line and Costco ran a pilot program selling Blue Apron kits. 

In May of 2018, Kroger went so far as to acquire Home Chef, in a deal reportedly worth $200 million “with an additional $500 million in incentives if certain targets are met.”

And Plated, a meal delivery service that got its start on the TV show “Shark Tank,” sold to Albertsons for a rumored $200 million plus growth-based “earnout payments.”

2. Lots of niche services have sprung up.

While the more traditional meal kits (HelloFresh, Blue Apron, Home Chef, and Plated) continue to enjoy success with mainstream customers, numerous smaller services have popped up, targeting niche audiences. 

  • Sun Basket and Green Chef both offer organic ingredients, with specialized menus like Paleo, Keto, and Gluten Free.
  • Purple Carrot is an all-vegan meal kit that was able to convince legendary food writer Mark Bittman to leave his 13 year column at the New York Times and join their content team for a 6-month stint.
  • Takeout Kit promises to transform your kitchen into a global café, scouring the planet for “hard-to-find ingredients and authentic recipes.” With each meal, you learn about the culture and background behind the dish, and the company even suggests music playlists and drink pairings to enhance your experience.
  • Dinnerly and EveryPlate have stripped away the frills and are instead competing for the title of cheapest meal delivery service, with prices per serving beginning at only $4.99. 

And as meal kits continue to grow in popularity, so does the spin off delivery industry of fully prepared meals. Freshly is a mainstream leader with lots of meal options to choose from. Veestro offers fully prepared meals for vegans. Factor75 features paleo and keto friendly meals. And MealPro is targeting fitness junkies. Because fully prepared meals usually come in single serving sizes, they’re a nice alternative for solo diners, since meal kit dishes almost always serve a minimum of two people. 

3. Many companies have been struggling.

Photo: Chris Campbell

With so many meal kits springing up, several companies have been struggling to survive the fierce competition. Two significant examples are Chef’d and Munchery. 

Munchery, a provider of fully prepared meals that differentiated itself by offering same day delivery, announced they were shutting their doors in January of this year. This came less than a year after a significant round of layoffs, despite raising over $120 million and reaching a valuation of $300 million.

Chef’d, which made a name for itself as one of the first meal kits to not rely on a subscription model, abruptly ceased operations — laying off over 350 employees. This happened even after the company raised $35 million in funding and announced a pilot distribution partnership with 30 Duane Reade and Walgreens locations in New York. 

Two more casualties are high-end food delivery service Sprig and also Din, which partnered with popular restaurants for recipes and delivered customers the ingredients they would need to recreate their favorite restaurant meals at home.  

And it isn’t just smaller companies that have struggled to grow sustainably in this highly competitive environment. Over the last year, even Blue Apron has seen its stock price drop from a high of $58.80 to an alarming $6.79 per share. 

There’s never been an easier time to start a meal delivery service — or a harder time to sustain one. 

4. What to expect moving forward. 

With over 150 players in this space, we can expect more consolidation to come. In early 2018, mainstream delivery giant HelloFresh bought out Green Chef, an organic meal delivery service designed for more health-conscious diners. This follows in the footsteps of the restaurant delivery space, where early mover Grubhub merged with Seamless and acquired Eat24 along with a slew of smaller companies. 

The good news is, as the demand for timesaving services continues to grow, it looks like meal delivery will be around for decades to come, and meal kits will become increasingly available through retail partnerships. 

We don’t yet know which brands will survive and which will come crashing down, but the future looks bright, tasty, and convenient — filled with easier ways for consumers to serve home-cooked meals and stick to health goals. Good for us. 

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News Restaurants Technology

You Can Now Order Food Online Using Facebook

 

Facebook has made a huge leap forward into the online food ordering game.

After some successful tests of being able to order from restaurants’ Facebook pages that began last year, the social media site has rolled out a new “Order Food” option in the “Explore” sidebar of your home page. On the page, a list of local food retailers in your area will pop up that you can order food from for either pickup or delivery. You can also see details of each restaurant including ratings, price range, and the type of food they offer.

Facebook teamed up with Delivery.com and Slice to make the new function possible. While it’s not clear exactly when this new option was rolled out, news sites like Techcrunch began reporting on it at the end of last week.

The “Order Food” option also still has some kinks that need to be worked out, indicating that it’s a relatively new option that needs more testing. When we tried to access some of the menus, they wouldn’t show up or encountered errors.

Nonetheless, it’s a convenient new way to order food from a site that we all spend a ton of time on anyways.

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Hacks Health News Technology What's New

These New Food Tech Inventions Will Upgrade Your Life

Technology has come an incredibly long way in just the past decade, with the Internet of Things (IOT) taking over lots of home-use appliances, like the Amazon Echo and Wi-Fi headphones. Food has been a huge part of this technological takeover, with tons of inventions being created for both industry and home uses. Some of these inventions are incredibly fun and cool to upgrade your personal love of food at home. For home gardening, shopping, or cooking, these are some of the coolest inventions aiming to make your food experiences convenient, high-tech, and personal.

 

Salad Sultan – Wearable Micro Greens You Can Grow

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Photo: Hamama

Now you can wear your accessories and eat them too! This cool microgreens growing kit, revealed at the 2016 Food Hackathon & Forum in San Francisco, was developed by microgreen growing kit revolutionaries Hamama . Using a patented “seed quilt” technology, they were able to design growing kits that allow microgreens to take the shapes of headbands, armbands, necklaces, and other accessories that people wear within a couple of weeks of easy growing. Just dip in water then spray once a day until grown!

Additionally, Hamama also is planning a future release of patterned Seed Quilts next year for more creative ways to wear your microgreens.

This makes microgreens fun to wear — and makes for a tasty on-the-go snack that you can show off and have fun with!

The Salad Sultan isn’t available yet, but the microgreen growing kits will be available in the next few weeks – first to California, then eventually to the rest of the nation.

 

Farmbot – Automated Home Gardening

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Photo: Farmbot

Make home gardening extremely simple with this incredible technology! Farmbot is designed to do everything you need for gardening, whether it be planting seeds, watering, or even killing invasive weeds. Because the blueprints are open-source, it’s easy for anyone to download and make their own (although Farmbot also has DIY kits available). You can control the machine through an app that lets you pick what vegetables you want to grow and monitors the growth progress. Home gardening couldn’t be simpler!

The blueprints/technology are free to download, but pre-made kits are also available online for preorder.

 

Juicero – Cold-Pressed Juice Vending Machine

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Photo: Juicero

Don’t rely on sugary store-bought juices again, and use this simple machine instead for healthy, nutritious pressed juices! When you purchase a Juicero vending machine, you sign up to get specific packs of juice on a regular basis as well. These are shipped the same day they are made for optimal quality, and all you have to do is insert the packages of pressed fruits and veggies into the machine to get your own quality, cold-pressed juice!

The packs also have QR codes that allow you to not only monitor the quality of the produce inside, but also see exactly where it came from – giving a whole new meaning to product transparency!

These next-level vending machines are currently available in California, Arizona, and Nevada, and plan to go nationwide in the future.

 

Nomiku – Wi-Fi Enabled Sous Vide Device

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Photo: Digital Trends

Sous vide is a gentle cooking method typically seen in high-end restaurants that usually needs vacuum sealed bags and an immersion circulator — equipment that’s expensive to get at home. Nomiku makes it incredibly easy to make your own sous vide at home — and no vacuum sealing is required! All you need to get started with this device is a pot, a heatproof bag, ingredients for your recipe, and the Nomiku appliance to get started!

The Nomiku does come with its own primer of recipes, but you can get more from the internet as well (or add your own once you get pro with your device). After downloading recipes from the Tender app and sending them to your Wi-Fi-enabled device, Nomiku is programmed to perfectly cook the recipe while sealing in a ton of the nutrition and giving your food amazing flavor and texture.

You can remotely control the device from your phone, making it super easy to cook and keep track of delicious, Michelin Star-quality food!

 

Habit – Meal Delivery Based on Your DNA

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Photo: Snapmunk

DNA testing can be used to identify everything from your gut microbiome to your ancestry. Now, Habit uses it to create your own personalized meal plans.

When you purchase a test kit from Habit, you’re able to get your DNA analyzed to see how your body works to process nutritional biomarkers like carbohydrate processing ability. You then get a personalized nutrition profile that identifies the foods and nutrients best suited for your needs, as well as personal nutrition coaching. These then get turned into personalized meals that are delivered straight to your doorstep, providing you with the perfect foods you need for your personal, optimal health!

Habit is taking preorders for test kits for a limited Bay Area release at the beginning of next year, but hopefully they can expand their service nationwide — or even globally!

 

Nima – Know If Your Food Contains Gluten

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Photo: Entrepreneuer

This powerful little device can test for gluten in less than 3 minutes with any food. All you have to do is place the food in a single use capsule, put it in your Nima device, and let the test run. It then tells you if the food has gluten or not, and these results can even be shared through the Nima app if desired, creating a network of knowledge on whether certain foods from certain places contain gluten!

These devices are currently sold out, but plan to be shipped out within the next month.

 

Shopwell – Personalize Your Shopping For Your Health 

shopwell

Photo: Food and Tech Connect

Shopwell is one of the most powerful apps you can download for your personal health. The app takes your requested nutrition preferences (low fat, gluten-free, athletic training diet, etc.) and turns it into customized shopping recommendations based on where you shop. It does this by developing a custom health scoring system based on your nutritional desires, and ranks products in the stores you shop in on a 0-100 scale. It then makes recommendations for you to switch to higher-scored products while shopping (by scanning in products on the app) or after shopping, helping you improve your diet and shopping habits around what you need!

The app is free for anyone to download on Android or IOS, so go ahead and give it a shot!

 

All of the above inventions give a personal twist to what the future of food can be. With these inventions (and more to come in the future, no doubt), it’s easy to see a future of food that is high-tech, nutritious, and truly made personal.

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Hit-Or-Miss News Packaged Food What's New

Spoon University and Chef’d Are Making Student Meal Kits

Ramen noodles and Hot Pockets may need to take a back seat for a while.

Spoon University, the food journalism site for students, announced a couple of days ago that it is teaming up with Chef’d to create college student meal kits.

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Photo: Spoon University

Starting next year, these meal kits will be shipped out to students looking to cook but lacking the time to go grocery shopping. They will contain everything from ingredients for recipes (enough for 4 meals), sets of 6 grab-and-go meal products, 10-packs of snacks or beverages, or even care package-themed meal kits.

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Photo: Chef’d

College students who spend all of their time studying will find these a relief from the fast food and more processed meals that they’re used to consuming. These meal kits are supplied with great, tasty products that students can use not only to enjoy eating, but to get back in the kitchen as well.

For now, Spoon University is offering a sign-up sweepstakes promotion. Those who sign up to learn when the meal kits are ready to go will be entered in a snacks care package giveaway!

Make sure to sign up for the sweepstakes and get ready to enjoy these creative, college-oriented new meal kits.