People are opting for convenience in the way they cook their meals at home, and testament to this is the phenomenal growth of the meal kit industry.
According to market research firm Technomic, Inc., meal kit sales topped $1 billion in 2015, and the growth of the niche industry is far outpacing all other aspects of food service. The research firm also projects that meal kit services will become a multi-billion dollar market over the next five years.
Meal kit services offer online convenience to cooking at home, eliminating the need to grocery shop and search for new recipes. They deliver the ingredients and recipes (planned and measured in advance), straight to your door so you can bypass the grocery store altogether.
Consumers’ growing preference for online shopping over the past few years has given the industry its push. As people become more comfortable with ordering services and products online, it makes sense they might source their everyday grocery items online, too. Plus, the meal kit companies offer fresh and measured ingredients, which might not be easily found in neighborhood stores, along with recipes and cooking tips to help people who might not be so comfortable in the kitchen but want to eat healthier.
Still, not everyone is enamored with meal kits. According to consumer research firm Civic Science, only 8% of 7,700 households they surveyed in the US are actually subscribing to these services, but the research firm also expects this number to increase. Twenty-four percent of survey respondents said they would consider subscribing to a meal kit service to eliminate the need to grocery shop.
When it comes to meal kit services, age and income seem to be a factor. According to Civic Science, older millennials are the primary subscribers, though equally split among men and women. Forty-seven percent earn more than $125,000 per year, and 40% are parents, so convenience matters to them over price.
According to survey results, it might benefit meal kit services to expand their standard American fare for more ethnic and specialized cuisine, which would broaden the customer base. For those who enjoy learning to cook ethnic foods or have special dietary needs, it would benefit companies to offer choices of cuisine (Thai, Peruvian, Persian, etc.), as well as gluten free or vegan options for those on restrictive diets.
Another consideration for the meal kit industry offered by Civic Science is to capitalize their offerings on social media. The majority customer base is social media saavy (26% will spend more than an hour on social media per day), and 30% are likely to be early adopters. If the meal companies focused on pushing beautiful images of meals and offering new and unique items, it might help those who are interested make the decision to subscribe.