Once upon a time, in a land called America, meal kits were the darling of the food tech sphere. Now, it seems no one really gives a shit, and meal kit companies like Blue Apron are scrambling to save their bottom lines: The company went public in June 2017 with an initial stock price of $10, and by December 2018 its share price had dipped below $1 (it’s currently hovering around $1.38 at time of publication).
Blue Apron’s latest attempt to salvage its business are something the company is inexplicably calling “Knick Knacks,” which are not your great-aunt Susan’s creepy Precious Moments® figurines but actually just cheaper meal kits that require home cooks to supply their own protein and produce.
Priced at $7.99, the kits “include a combination of pre-portioned spices, sauces, grains and dairy ingredients,” TechCrunch explains, and currently come in four iterations including Mexican-Spiced Chicken Quinoa Bowl and Creamy Shrimp Gnocchi. They’re currently available only via Walmart-owned Jet.com for delivery in the NYC area; it’s unclear whether they’re headed for a wider rollout.
While this new product launch attempts to solve the two biggest meal kit obstacles — too-high prices and people not wanting to be locked into a subscription — it seems unlikely that these stripped-down kits will prove to be Blue Apron’s savior. Here are four other ways Blue Apron has previously attempted to adapt its business to a market that has seemingly lost its appetite for having boxes full of excessively-packaged, pre-portioned ingredients delivered to their front doors:
May 2018: Begins selling meal kits in stores
Following a sales decline and sliding stock price, Blue Apron scraps its digital-only halo (a sheen that’s been used to sell millennials everything from eyewear to mattresses to fancy cookware) and begins hawking its meal kits in Costco stores, where, just one month prior, gift cards to the subscription service were being sold at a discount. Costco’s budget-minded members were able to buy the kits for 30 percent less than what mail-order subscribers pay, but the partnership was short-lived: Blue Apron pulled its meal kits from Costco shelves in November 2018, and despite the company saying it was looking to resume that partnership in 2019, it seems that has yet to happen.
June 2018: Rolls out celebrity partnership
What better way to reestablish relevancy than to partner with a celebrity and social media influencer that everyone actually loves, Chrissy Teigen? The Chrissy Teigen x Blue Apron collab involved six weeks of recipes from her best-selling cookbook Cravings offered as meal options for mail-order subscribers.
October 2018: Partners with Jet.com, aka Walmart
Blue Apron partners with yet-another third-party vendor — Jet.com, an Amazon-esque site owned by Walmart — to launch “on demand” meal kits available for same- or next-day delivery in the NYC area. The kits are priced between $16.99 and $22.99 for two servings and do not require a subscription.
December 2018: Partners with Weight Watchers
Just after its stock price dips below $1 (down 90 percent from its IPO price of $10) — and following a Weight Watchers experiment with its own line of meal kits — Blue Apron announces it’s partnering with the weight-loss brand (aka “WW,” as it now prefers to be known) for diet-friendly meal kits available via its usual mail-order subscription model. Blue Apron will pay WW “a small acquisition fee” for each WW member who becomes a new subscriber.
What will Blue Apron think of next? Will it sponsor a music festival or reinvent itself as a “lifestyle brand” — or perhaps, just cross its fingers that it gets bought out by Jeff Bezos? Stay tuned.