- Meal kit maker Blue Apron is adding plant-based options from Beyond Meat to its menu starting in mid-August, according to a company press release.
- The company said its Blue Apron x Beyond Meat recipes will be available through Blue Apron’s signature two-serving plan. The initial menu will feature plant-based burgers with options like Caramelized Onion & Cheddar Beyond Burgers and Jalapeño and Goat Cheese burgers. Blue Apron will continue to add new recipes with Beyond Meat options to future menus.
- Blue Apron has struggled recently to keep its stock price above $1, but it increased as much as 53% following the plant-based announcement, CNBC reported. Beyond Meat’s stock has grown a staggering 582% since its IPO in May, and was up 2% following the announcement.
Plant-based foods have grown 54% in the last five years, and countless fast food restaurants are adding plant-based items to their menus. Grocery retailers are also adding plant-based items to store shelves including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Publix and Harris Teeter. Meal kit companies are now following suit, too.
Blue Apron is the biggest meal kit brand to add Beyond Meat to the menu recently, along with some smaller companies. Meal delivery service Fresh 'n Lean added Beyond Meat to its menu in May, and Happy Food Co., a retail meal kit service that operates in Kansas and Missouri, also offers a Beyond Burger meal kit. Chef'd added Beyond Meat to its lineup in 2017, before its business collapsed last year.
Adding plant-based options could be enough to buoy the sinking stock for now, but it may take more than a menu change to keep Blue Apron subscribers satisfied long-term. The company is also dealing with ongoing quarterly losses and a recent leadership change following the resignation of former CEO Brad Dickerson in April. Blue Apron has been trying to revive its dismal performance with efforts including a U.S. culinary tour, same-day delivery in the San Francisco Bay Area and expansion of its Knick Knack products.
Long-term subscriber loyalty in meal kits is difficult to achieve, with customers expecting continued variety and new, exciting menus. Blue Apron is checking off the fresh and innovative box by adding Beyond Meat, but it still needs to pay attention to consumers' main meal kit grievances. Cost and the time it takes to prepare a meal were two of the biggest factors that consumers listed as reasons for canceling a subscription service, so Blue Apron may have a better chance of attracting customers with meals that can be made in under 30 minutes or loyalty programs that offer reduced prices.
Blue Apron is not alone in trying to stay afloat. There have been plenty of meal kit company failures and rebrandings, including the transformation of Chef’d from a meal kit subscription service to an in-store meal kit brand. Meanwhile, Albertsons pulled Plated meal kits from Boise store shelves recently, and hasn't shared any information about their return or the future of Plated.
Despite the challenging territory, there are 100 million U.S. consumers who still want to try a meal kit service, and 143 million more households purchased meal kits in the last six months of 2018. With the craze over plant-based meat, there is a lot of opportunity for companies to add new items and sway consumers to try a meal kit service.