The subscription meal kit sector is growing like crazy — here’s a closer look at one player in the space. Read on for a Blue Apron company profile and review.
What is Blue Apron’s Business Model Like?
Based in New York City, the service will send recipes and ingredients weekly for people to cook at home. The company is thriving because more people are interested in healthy and “clean” eating, meaning that they’re looking for fresh, organic ingredients that are as minimally processed as possible. It also caters to foodies who are interested in trying exotic ingredients but don’t know where to find these items or are good cooks.
The perk with this service is that customers aren’t just getting food and recipes, you’re also getting the experience of what Blue Apron considers a high-end meal. The meals they offer aren’t your typical hamburgers and hot dogs. Sample meals include Katsu-Style Catfish, Fontina and Beet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, and Top Chef Spiced Pork.
Here is an example of how they organize their meals so you can cook it from start to finish:
The idea is that if you’re not a good cook, Blue Apron helps remove that barrier by giving you everything you need to make a great meal. The recipe cards give an overview of the dish, the ingredients you need, and simple step-by-step instructions on making the meal from start to finish.
This “meal kit” business model isn’t the first of its kind. There are other competitors such as HelloFresh (established in 2012), Plated, Greenchef and Hungry Root. However, they’ve risen above the others in the past few years.
One way they’ve been able to grow is to keep food costs as low as possible. The company works directly with farmers, which gives them access to unique ingredients that may not be available in stores. It’s helped them get reliable access to ingredients because the farmers like the consistent income, and Blue Apron can guarantee that they have fresh and locally produced ingredients.
They also create their menus around seasonal ingredients, further driving home the point that they’re committed to helping people eat healthier. They’re also a conscious company, working with farms to analyze climate change, temperature data and work to constantly improve soil health.
As well, since they’re a subscription service, they know how much inventory they’ll need every week. That way, they can minimize costs and waste. Blue Apron is successful because they can do what that do in scale, while still branding themselves as a sort of farm to table service. The company focuses on the supply chain and working closely with their suppliers.
They’ve also kept their menu offerings simple. Other than a vegetarian option, they don’t offer dietary needs like food allergies, paleo, kosher or gluten-free meals. They’ve also branched into offering other products like wine (hence you’ll see suggested wine pairings on their recipe cards) and cooking supplies.
An Honest Experience With Blue Apron
After trying out their subscription, I can honestly say that it does live up to some of its hype. It was easy to register and choose your meals, all in less than ten minutes. For those who are time-strapped, Blue Apron definitely makes it convenient for those who are looking to save time organizing their meals.
The box was delivered on time and all the ingredients were packed carefully inside. For those who work 9 to 5, they don’t need to worry about whether or not the food will spoil. There were two large ice packs and the meat was still frozen. If that box was left for a few hours, your food wouldn’t be compromised.
As for the meals, it’s easy to see why this company has grown the way it did. The meals were simple to create even with exotic ingredients. Some of the ingredients (such as Yakiniku sauce) do come with an explanation as to what it is, including the country of origin.
The recipe cards outlined step-by-step instructions that weren’t filled with jargon or terms that were hard for a novice cook to follow. There were just enough photos to show what important steps looked like, what ingredients were needed (just in case someone didn’t what the ingredients were from the labels) and how the finished meal should look.
As for how sustainable this business model is, Blue Apron may need to be more flexible in its offerings. There will be more businesses that will crop up (like Martha Stewart) that will have pretty much the same model. If they want to keep catering to the healthy food crowd, they may need to start offering more meals that cater to dietary needs, such as paleo or gluten-free. Currently, many of their meals have wheat, such as pasta or bread.
Who knows if meal kit services are a fad, but Blue Apron seems to be doing something right so far. They’re offering a convenient service while staying true to what it means to eat “clean.” Only time will tell if they’re going to stay long-term or buckle under the competition.
If you’re interested in trying Blue Apron yourself, give it a try and save $30 on your first order with this link!