Meal kit company Marley Spoon is relaunching today, this time with a new name and a new partner. The pre-portioned ingredient, cook-it-yourself, boxed meal service has partnered with Martha Stewart and rebranded itself as "Martha & Marley Spoon."
According to a release, this latest version will marry Martha Stewart's recipes with the existing Marley Spoon template. In other words, the service itself hasn't changed, it just has a shiny, new partner.
In a release, Yehuda Shmidman, CEO of Sequential Brands Group (which merged with Martha Stwart Living Omnimedia last year), said the partnership "marks an exciting milestone for the Martha Stewart brand as we expand into one of the fastest growing food categories." Shmidman added that, "by activating Martha's archive of thousands of recipes, videos and trusted how-to content," the company believes it can "quickly become a significant player in the meal-kit delivery industry."
Marley Spoon CEO Fabian Siegel first met with Stewart in the Fall of last year. He says the partnership is a natural one. "Marley Spoon built the infrastructure, laid down all the tracks — and she has the expertise in terms of recipes. Plus, people know her and trust her."
The meal kit industry has exploded over the past few years and, with an estimated 150 companies competing it the space, many are working to differentiate themselves. Some, like Marley Spoon, are doing that by partnering with celebrity chefs and food industry vets.
Mark Bittman started working with vegan meal-kit startup Purple Carrot shortly after leaving his position as a food columnist with the New York Times. He moved on from the venture less than a year later, though he will reportedly retain some form of ownership in the company.
Bittman's former employer, the New York Times, is also getting in to the meal kit delivery game, partnering with Chef'd to offer recipe kit packages. Amazon will also soon launch a meal kit service in partnership with Tyson Foods.
It's a crowded field — one that some say isn't even profitable yet — but investment into meal kits continues to flow. Hungry Root, which brands itself as a "healthy" meal kit alternative, recently raised more than $3 million in venture capital. Marley Spoon has so far raised more than $32 million.
Siegel says Marley Spoon's primary competition isn't other meal kits, but traditional supermarkets. "Ninety-nine percent of all consumers still use supermarkets as their traditional means of cooking," he says. "There are multiple meal kit companies but on average, consumers haven't really discovered them yet. On the other hand, once consumers try it, we've seen that they really begin to replace the supermarket with Marley Spoon. I think Martha can help us by allowing even more people to discover this new way of cooking."