What does 2016 Hold for Meal Kits?

f482d9a047cffbed4fc45904bffc824992dcbc63_christmas-4.jpgMeal kits and recipe delivery services exploded in 2015, with promises of convenience and easy access to all the joys of cooking. Services like Blue Apron, Plated and Hello Fresh (all available nationally), along with a number of more local startups, offer customers customizable subscription services to bring pre-portioned ingredients to your door, along with a (hopefully) easy to follow recipe selected from the frequently updated options on their sites. Many of these companies tailor their recipes to focus on specific health concerns or responsible ingredient sourcing, with the goal of providing subscribers with all the pride of a fully home-cooked meal. One plant-based version of the model even attracted the legendary Mark Bittman to their team.

Understandably, these companies have already seen some blowback from their surge in popularity, on both the environmental side (the extra packaging used to deliver a single meal’s worth of 5 spices may not be the best thing for mother earth) to the cultural (is some part of the joy of cooking lost for the sake of convenience?) But that hasn’t stopped the venture funding from flowing in. Even if the bubble doesn’t burst, some meal kit companies may face growing pains in the coming year, as competition increases and newcomers try to expand quickly. Good Eggs, a grocery delivery service with over $50 million in funding, recently laid off nearly half their employees and closed operations in all cities but San Francisco.

One important test will be how these companies take advantage of the holiday season, and increase their reach through either gift subscriptions or holiday offerings. Most sites already sell gift cards, and some offer holiday meal kits to make party-hosting easy. Blue Apron, for example, wants you to “Host a Blue Apron Christmas!” and Atlanta-based PeachDish sold out of their Christmas dinner for four, but are offering it for New Years as well. According to their website, “You provide the champagne and we’ll provide everything else for your New Year’s Eve party!” Of course, you could always get the champagne delivered too and call it a night.

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