Meal kits may be simple to cook at home, but the journey they take to your doorstep is much more complex.
With the help of meal kit services like Blue Apron, culinary rookies can whip up North African spiced shrimp with dates, kale, and carrots like it’s nothing. Instead of grocery shopping, kit subscribers receive a shipment of fresh ingredients and corresponding recipes once a week. In under 45 minutes, they can use the provided ingredients and instructions to put together a gourmet meal. In addition to their convenience, meal kits eliminate waste by including the exact amount of food necessary to make the meal. So, for example, if recipe instructions call for two sprigs of parsley, customers receive two sprigs of parsley (rather than an entire bundle) in their kit.
While it may be the largest, Blue Apron’s not the only company in this booming industry, which generated $1.5 billion in sales in 2016. Companies have sprouted up to fill every niche of the market, from gluten-free to low-calorie meals. Each individual business’ survival relies on mastering a complicated supply chain, forecasting demand for the future, and remaining relevant beyond the current spike in meal kit popularity.