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Can Meal Kits Save You Time AND Money?

Sep 13, 2016
Darren Seifer, Executive Director, Industry Analyst ;
Food Consumption

I don’t mean to harp on meal delivery kits in my posts but I keep finding new areas of discussion as I continue to use them!

In my last post, I updated you on my experiences with a few of these services and how I think I will continue using them. I made a small comment that my monthly groceries spend, which includes the meal kits, seems to have dipped. And for those of you who don’t know me, I’m talking about real numbers since I track everything I spend in a financial software on my computer ( yes I’m one of those people).

Shortly after that post went live a colleague forwarded an article that said, “Subscribers to meal kit services are spending 6 percent less at supermarkets than they did before using the service, according to a new study by Atlanta-based credit and debit card spending analysis firm Cardlytics.”

I too am spending less at grocery stores simply because I’m not in them as often, but how am I overall spending less on groceries when the average meal cost per person from a kit is about $10 while getting the groceries yourself is less than half that much? A few things seem to be in play and it hit me when I set foot in a grocery store for the first time in a while. I needed some basil for a recipe I was making but of course I couldn’t simply purchase a few leaves. I could only buy an entire bunch most of which will likely go bad before I will have a chance to use it. Essentially half of that spend will be wasted. Also while I was in the store, I figured I might as well get a few other items like eggs, yogurt, bananas, hummus and other spreads. Remember, I only went to the store for one item but I walked out with about seven so just by being in the store I’m very likely to spend more than what I actually need. Since I subscribe to a meal kit I’m making those impulse purchases far less frequently.

A few retailers have taken note of these services as threats and for good reason. Two thirds of adults in a recent NPD study said had they not made a meal from one of these kits they would have made something else in their home. In other words, meal kits are replacing meals where the ingredients would have been sourced from a grocery store.

It’s still not time to hit the panic button if you’re a retailer since only 3 percent of adults have tried a meal kit in the past year, but they are gearing up to be a formidable disruptor in the food industry. As more consumers are seeking fresh solutions that save time in the kitchen or grocery store, these services are becoming attractive to a greater base of consumers.