Amazon has announced a new plan to join the burgeoning market of meal-delivery kits. The Times reports that on July 6, the company registered a trademark for its new meal kit service, which comes with the tagline “We do the prep. You be the chef.” The approach is one that has been popularized by startups like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Plated, Home Chef, and countless others. CSNBC reports that, since its initial public offering (IPO) last month, Blue Apron has taken some major blows in the stock market. Unsurprisingly, news of Amazon’s meal kit service has caused the value of Blue Apron’s shares to plummet even further.
The big Amazon reveal comes one month after the e-commerce giant purchased Whole Foods in a move that has the U.S. grocery industry shook. The Whole Foods acquisition follows Amazon’s 2016 mass rollout of the grocery delivery service AmazonFresh, so the meal kit delivery service seems like a logical next step. Select customers are already able to purchase meal kits from AmazonFresh. Current offerings include dishes such as BBQ Chicken and Grits, Smoky Carne Asada Street Tacos, and Lemongrass Pork Belly Pad Thai.
Phil Lempert, a food trends expert known as The Supermarket Guru, says that this new offering is likely to take off. “Adding fresh meal kits without all the extra packaging, and probably at a lower price, is a really smart move,” Lempert tells SELF. “What this all leads to is [that] Amazon, whether it’s with grocery delivery or meal kits, is quickly going to ramp up to be the number one player in importance as it relates to technology and all things food.”
Success isn’t a given, though. As much as millennials like e-commerce, meal kits services have struggled to reach the mass American market, with only 5 percent of consumers having used one over the course of the past year according to the NPD Group. And even among that 5 percent, brand loyalty is a problem. “There’s a big churn in customers,” Lempert said. “They sign up for that free $30 [promotional offers] and then they go to the next meal kit provider and the next one and the next one.” Amazon, as the preeminent online retailer with an array of already-existing services and a loyal customer base, has the potential to break this cycle.