Blue Apron’s Q3 Loss Widens as Consumers Seek Faster Dining Options

Blue Apron

Despite seeing declining revenue and a deeper loss compound, Blue Apron maintains that the events of the past 20 months have precipitated a rise in home cooking that will boost sales going forward.

The company announced on Tuesday (Nov. 9) that its third-quarter loss widened 81% year over year to $27.6 million, while revenue decreased 2%, orders fell 8% and its customer base shrunk by 2%.

The company’s year-ago results came amid the COVID-19 lockdown, when consumers had more time on their hands to try out new cooking projects and concerns over contagion gave a boost to any business that could bring ingredients to their doors. Nonetheless, the company will still benefit from a rise in home cooking compared to pre-pandemic.

The company sees “continued levels of changed core consumer behavior, as more people eat and cook at home than prior to the pandemic,” Linda Findley, the company’s president and CEO, told analysts on a call. “This behavior is reflected in our key customer metrics, and we believe it is a positive indicator for our near- and long-term business outlook.”

To back up this trend, Findley cited an 11% increase in orders per customer and an 8% bump in average order value relative to year-ago levels, adding that average revenue per customer has remained above $310 for the last year and a half.

But such optimism may be a reflection of how Blue Apron is slicing its data, as other players in the space seem to be suggesting a different trend. For instance, a survey of 2,000 consumers conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Home Chef, a meal kit and prepared meal delivery service owned by Kroger, found that four in 10 people report that their patience in the kitchen has reached an “all-time low.” Forty-five percent of Americans feel too busy to cook, and 35% feel that the events of the past couple of years have left them tired of cooking.

“The dynamic of the 1950s, where somebody would cook six square meals a week and maybe go out once a week, is going to be totally the opposite,” Marc Choy, president of virtual kitchen solution Ghost Kitchen Brands, told PYMNTS’ Karen Webster. “This is how people are going to know how to get their food — by ordering.”

Also read: In-Store Ghost Kitchens Turn Walmart into Uber Eats Competitor

In fact, PYMNTS research indicates that consumers became so accustomed to the speed and convenience of online food ordering during the pandemic that restaurant meals are replacing meals they may previously have cooked at home. Findings from PYMNTS’ How We Eat Playbook, created in collaboration with Carat from Fiserv, which features a census-balanced survey of more than 5,200 U.S. consumers, show consumers are now 31% more likely to buy meals to be eaten at home than they are to dine on-site.

See also: Up for Grabs: Restaurants and Grocers See Path to Picking up 200M New Customers

And despite Blue Apron’s assertions that more people will be cooking at home, laying the foundation for future profitability, the company nonetheless seems to be hedging its bets on consumer preferences. In September, it announced the launch of frozen “Heat & Eat” meals as add-ons for subscribers.

More details: Blue Apron’s New Frozen Meals Add Value for High-Churn Subscription Service

Still, the meal kit remains central to Blue Apron’s strategy.

As Findley described it on Tuesday’s call: “The early response to the initial launch of ‘Heat & Eat’ provides additional evidence for our strategy to provide customers with more options for their boxes, helping to drive sustainable growth and customer value.”