The coronavirus pandemic has affected the world in a great number of ways. One of the most obvious is, of course, the forced lockdowns that made millions of people stay at home. Remote work in such conditions led to a drop in productivity but also to an increase in the demand for healthy food. The meal-kit industry, which has been moderately growing, has gotten a huge boost. With the rapid increase of awareness, the popularity of this service will continue to grow at an extraordinary pace.
The rise of meal kit services in the coronavirus pandemic
The pandemic hit many industries so hard the effects are nothing short of devastating. Meal kits, however, are enjoying an unprecedented boost in popularity. For example, HelloFresh, the leading meal kit delivery service in the US, reports a 90% increase in customers within the first quarter of 2020. Other top companies in the industry show similar data.
Apparently, people have started to order meal kits in droves, and the trend is only gaining speed. It’s even more important to note that the same changes are happening globally. It’s reflective of how people are steadily growing more health-conscious and interested in eating healthy.
At the moment, meal kit delivery services have become the fastest, safest, and easiest method of enjoying healthy meals. In the times when grocery shopping is a risk to personal wellbeing, paying a bit extra for the delivery seems worth it.
Moreover, these kits are growing in popularity even compared to cooked meal delivery. Concerns over hygiene standards are definitely a factor here. One can’t be sure if the facilities where meals are cooked meat all the stringent health and safety standards. But meal kits are packed at certified facilities and cooked under your own watchful eye. Therefore, the risk of contamination is lower.
Top meal kit providers globally
The meal-kit industry is growing fast with new interesting startups appearing regularly. However, leading positions in the industry are taken by global brands. In North America, top names in the industry today are competitors HelloFresh and Goodfood. HelloFresh is winning, however, because it currently holds 30% of the market in the US and a sizeable portion of it in Canada.
In the EU, you can find some of the most interesting and innovative meal kit startups. These include Mindful Chef, which is the leader in the UK. It focuses on deliveries of healthy fresh ingredients from small UK farms. UK residents also get access to a kit specifically dedicated to pasta, delivered by Pasta Evangelists. The French enjoy Frichti, a food startup that raised €30 million funding in 2017 and has been growing madly since.
HelloFresh is also the leading meal kit service in Australia. It’s right there at the top with Marley Spoon, a meal kit brand with a focus on sustainability. Note that the overabundance of packaging raises a lot of meal kits critique. Many claim these services to be very bad for the environment.
This was definitely true when meal kits first appeared. However, today every leading brand makes a great effort to be more sustainable. In the majority of cases, all packaging is recyclable. Some companies also contribute to local environmental organizations and encourage recycling and waste-free use of their kits.
Meal kits are also growing more popular in Asia. However, Western brands like Blue Apron are most popular there at the moment. But recently, food companies that make something similar to frozen dinners in South Korea have started drawing inspiration from meal kits. They are starting to use these practices to deliver fresher and healthier meals to their customers. Therefore, it’s highly possible that the Asian market will also be brimming with innovative food delivery startups soon.
Will meal kits be as big as cooked food deliveries?
The online food delivery industry is rapidly reaching $200 billion. Meal kits are currently at under $5 billion globally, but this situation is changing fast. The COVID-19 pandemic is driving the latest bout of growth in meal kit popularity. It’s similar to how it has rapidly pushed the growth in the telehealth industry. The demand for those services has increased by 200% since the pandemic started. In the meantime, top meal kit delivery companies report that their orders doubled during this time.
Both these trends are not only indicative of the change in circumstances that forced people to use these solutions to meet their basic needs. This rapid growth of the meal kit industry shows a boost in awareness of its benefits. Therefore, there is a very good chance that the trend for growth will persist even after life returns to normal.
Of course, even with the speed boost, it will take years for meal kit deliveries to become as big as cooked food deliveries. However, now we can say that this might actually happen, instead of meal kits disappearing like a temporary fad as people are growing more aware and interested in leading a healthy lifestyle. This way of maintaining a healthy diet is sure to keep attracting more loyal fans.