Meal kit

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The contents of a Blue Apron meal kit

A meal kit is a subscription servicefoodservice business model where a company sends customers pre-portioned and sometimes partially-prepared food ingredients and recipes to prepare homecooked meals.[1] Services that send pre-cooked meals are called meal delivery services. This subscription model has been cited as an example of the personalization of the food and beverage industry that is becoming more popular[where?] and widespread.[2]

A meal kit is not to be confused with convenience food, which is actually cooked and "prepared" at a kitchen facility before shipment—typically in a refrigerated container.


The business model originated in Sweden, and conflicting sources credit either Kicki Theander's launch of Middagsfrid (roughly translated as “dinnertime bliss”) in 2007,[3] or Linas Matkasse, launched in 2008 by siblings Niklas Aronsson and Lina Gebäck.[4] Middagsfrid quickly spread to several other Northern European countries, and inspired a range of competitors.[3] Three meal kit companies entered the U.S.[5] market roughly simultaneously in 2012: Blue Apron, HelloFresh (which was already operating in Europe), and Plated.[4]


According to Inc Magazine, as of March 2017 there were over 150 meal kit companies in the United States.[6] As of July 2017, according to Time Magazine, the meal kit business was estimated to be USD$2.2 billion globally, which represents under 1% of the estimated $1.3 trillion food market.[7] The industry is expected to grow tremendously and estimates show that it could make up 1.3% of food and beverage sales by 2020. Supermarkets have tried to combat meal kits popularity by making their own kits sold at store's locations. Blue Apron was the service most used by customers surveyed by Morning Consult in 2017, followed by HelloFresh and Plated.[8] Although companies and the category have enjoyed rapid growth, they face a substantial challenge in retaining subscribers: many customers only use the services once, lured by offers of free meals, and few people continue past the 5-8 week mark: just 6% of customers surveyed by Morning Consult were still subscribed to most meal kit services after 3 months (although Blue Apron did much better than average at 12% 3-month retention).[8] Subscribers are mostly young, overwhelmingly urban, and skew male and upper-income.[8]

List of meal kit services[edit]

Environmental impact[edit]

Meal kit refrigerated gel pack used during shipping

The industry has come under criticism for the difficulty recycling the freezer gel packs included with the kits to keep meats and dairy products refrigerated during shipping. The active ingredient in many gel packs is sodium polyacrylate, a non-toxic powder that can stay cold when saturated with water and frozen.[36]


  1. ^ "The Best Meal-Kit Delivery Services of 2017". PCMAG. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Capitalizing on convenience: The rise of meal-kit services and what it means for grocers". Food Dive. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  3. ^ a b Segran, Elizabeth (6 August 2015). "The $5 Billion Battle For The American Dinner Plate". Fast Company. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b Konrad, Alex. "The Swedish Meal Kit Startup That Inspired Blue Apron, Plated And HelloFresh Speaks Out". Forbes magazine (14 October 2015). Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Meal Kit History- infographic".
  6. ^ a b "Martha Stewart New Meal Kit Partnership With Amazon Gives Users More Than Just Convenience". 17 March 2017. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Why Meal Kits Haven't Delivered a Cooking Revolution—Yet". 19 July 2017. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Leonhardt, Megan (20 July 2017). "These 2 Charts Show Just How Popular Meal-Kit Services Are". Money magazine. Archived from the original on 20 July 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  9. ^ "We tried Amazon and Blue Apron's meal kits side by side". CNBC. 21 July 2017.
  10. ^ "ShopRite rolls out internationally inspired meal kit line". 27 March 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  11. ^ a b c "A dietician weighs in on 5 food delivery services". 15 August 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  12. ^ "Meal-kit company Fresh Prep faces hefty competition as it gears up for expansion". 18 November 2018. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  13. ^ "Hungry for some 'fuud'? Delivery service brings farmers market 'meal-kits' to B.C. doorsteps". CBC News. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  14. ^ Global, Belly (19 July 2018). "A Meal Kit Company With a Global Focus". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  15. ^ "Goodness Me, what a success". The Hamilton Spectator. 29 October 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  16. ^ Insley, Jill (30 November 2012). "Hello Fresh and Gousto – which is better?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  17. ^ "Meal-Kit Bubble? Organic Startup Green Chef Unveils New Vegan Menu As Competition Heats Up". Forbes. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  18. ^ "Gym Food Australia looks to be another Townsville star on rise". 19 January 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  19. ^ "HelloFresh Raises $126 Million In Series E From Rocket Internet". techcrunch. 6 February 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  20. ^ "Ayesha Curry Wants to Be the Martha Stewart for Millennials".
  21. ^ "Worth it? We test out Kroger's new meal kits". 15 May 2017. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  22. ^ "Easy does it". 26 October 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  23. ^ Potter, Kerry (23 July 2017). "The rise of DIY meal kits". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  24. ^ "My Food Bag launches new product inspired by 'street eats'". The New Zealand Herald. 25 July 2018.
  25. ^ "Atlanta's PeachDish Aims To Outflank Plated, Blue Apron With Smarter Logistics And Southern Hospitality". 3 March 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  26. ^ "Home-delivered meal kits, tested, tasted and reviewed". 18 February 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  27. ^ "How Shark Tank's Plated Broke $100 Million in Revenue in Three Years". 4 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  28. ^ "I Tried Tom Brady's New Meal Delivery Service—And It's Not Just for Bros". 5 April 2017. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  29. ^ "The Ultimate Guide To The Best Meal Kit Delivery Services". 21 March 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  30. ^ "As meal kit industry grows, Terra's Kitchen eyes expansion". 28 March 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  31. ^ "Blue Sky puts $10 million into Thr1ve restaurant chain". 27 September 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  32. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)|title=“This Meal Prep Service Gives You Food, and Tells You How to Use It|date=March 22, 2021}}
  33. ^ ""Un-forkin believable" Youfoodz ad banned by watchdog over concerns boy sounds like he's swearing". 5 March 2018.
  34. ^ "How Youfoodz Redefined Fresh Home Delivery: A Case Study". 5 January 2018.
  35. ^ "Walmart now makes and sells meal kits in stores". The Verge. 5 March 2018.
  36. ^ "The Truth About Meal-Kit Freezer Packs". 4 June 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2017.