Amazon has spent the last year or so pushing heavily to dominate the food and grocery retail space. The most recent development comes as the online retail giant partners with meal kit delivery service Marley Spoon to start delivering Martha Stewart’s meal kits via Amazon Fresh.
While still relatively small when compared to the food industry at large, the U.S. meal kit delivery market is growing quickly. Data from Packaged Facts projected some $1.5 billion in sales for the meal kit market in 2016, with growth anticipated to hit as much as $5 billion within the next five years, said Forbes. Naturally, Amazon wants a bite.
But Amazon’s entry into the meal kit space could spell trouble for the startup operations — like Plated, Blue Apron and HelloFresh — that currently populate the meal kit space. These smaller operations are already feeling the pressure from other potential “Big Food” entrants like Tyson Foods Inc., Campbell’s and Hershey Co. — all of whom are reportedly in talks with online couriers to break into the meal kit market.
The entry of Big Food and Amazon into the meal kit space could offer more affordable or more ready-to-cook options, potentially drawing more consumers in or young subscribers away from the long prep times and higher prices that currently define the meal kit ecosystem (meal kits generally come with an average price tag between $10 and $12). Additionally, both Big Food and Amazon have the benefit of a large product inventory, reach and, in the case of Amazon, delivery infrastructure.
Fresh competition aimed at supplanting incumbent meal kit startups is also coming inside the house, so to speak: from physical grocery stores. Meal kits and prepared food options have started springing up at supermarkets as part of a larger “grocerant” and expanded services push to draw foot traffic (and consumer dollars) back into grocery stores.