Amazon’s Imminent Threat To The Crowded Meal-Kit Delivery Field

by Smith Brain Trust

For Blue Apron (APRN), Amazon’s blockbuster deal to acquire Whole Foods couldn’t have come at a worse time, says Jie Zhang, marketing professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.


kirstyfields / Pixabay

The New York-based meal-kit delivery service was just beginning the marketing for its initial public offering, in which it hopes to raise more than $500 million, when Amazon announced the $13.7 billion deal that could upend the food-retail industry.

Suddenly, all the talk among analysts and prospective investors has turned to Amazon, the 431 Whole Foods locations, the grocery chain’s distribution network, and how CEO Jeff Bezos might reshape how Americans shop for food.

“Whole Foods’ reputation for high-quality ready-to-eat meals and Amazon’s super-efficient logistic systems are a powerful combination in serving the home-meal market,” says Zhang, who is also the Harvey Sanders Fellow of Retail Management at the Smith School. She calls the new Amazon Whole Foods business “an imminent threat to meal-kit delivery services.”

Amazon already has a meal-kit service, with the Martha Stewart-branded Martha & Marley Spoon line offered through Amazon Fresh. The service has never emerged as a key focus for the online giant, but with the acquisition of Whole Foods, analysts are speculating that it soon could be.

That’s a worry for Blue Apron, one of the leaders in meal-kit services, with nearly $800 million in revenue last year. Blue Apron will price its IPO shares between $15 and $17, which would give the company a valuation of up to $3.2 billion.

The meal-kit field is crowded, with Blue Apron and rivals Plated, HelloFresh, Chef’d, Terra’s Kitchen, the plant-based Purple Carrot and the organic-focused Sun Basket, which is expected to launch an IPO later this year. There are also kit services from The New York Times, Men’s Health magazine, and even from Vice Media, which collaborates on its menu with Toronto chef Matty Matheson, the host of Viceland cable network’s “Dead Set on Life” culinary travel program. And there are plenty more, too.

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