October 4, 2013

Elevating Grab & Go To The Family Dinner Table

takeoutEveryone knows they should eat healthy food, right? But when it comes down to it, it’s just so much easier to grab n’ go from your local fast food or fast casual/Starbucks/convenience store/etc. than actually take the time to make a meal. You know as well as I do that when a recipe says it takes 20 minutes to make it doesn’t include in all the chopping and dicing and that’s just time that many people don’t have in their day anymore. There’s a new breed of company that’s catching a lot of attention these days from customers and investors for the way they’re trying to solve these two problems – healthy eating and not enough time.

Companies like Blue Apron, Plated, and HelloFresh are the three biggest in a new take on direct-delivery meal service. Whereas prior meal delivery companies would drop a completed meal off at your door, frozen and with re-heating instructions, these three and others like them strive to make family meals a reality again. They have curated easy-to-follow recipes and then do all that chopping and dicing for you. What you get, delivered straight to your door, is everything you need to make a meal from the protein to the spices, all of which are already premeasured. With all that prep work and hunting for ingredients (let alone buying ingredients) taken out of the equation, now 20-minutes to cook a healthy meal really is 20-minutes and that’s about the same amount of time as it would take you to run out and grab a bucket o’chicken from the nearest fast food place. And for about $10/per person/per entrée, the cost isn’t much different from a fast casual restaurant.

Granted, most of you reading this are probably a lot like me and cooking is something, most nights, I enjoy doing. But this is where I’ll remind you that you can’t look at yourself as the ‘average’ consumer. The best businesses are those that identify a customer problem and then set out to solve that problem. And if you had any lingering thoughts that there simply can’t be enough business to sustain a company like this, it’s worth noting that Blue Apron just raised $5 million in their second round of funding (on top of $3 million in their first round) and, according to their site, serve 100,000 meals per month. HelloFresh also just closed on a funding round to the tune of $7.5 million.

These new meal delivery companies are a unique hybrid of food business and e-commerce business, but at their core they solve a problem for millions of consumers and that’s what gives them the best chance to succeed.

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