As Whole Foods launches drive-throughs and one-hour delivery services around the country, it’s clear that Blue Apron is paying attention, starting with a new partnership with New Jersey-based Jet to deliver meals in New York City.
With the new partnership, which triggered a 26 percent jump in Blue Apron stocks on Monday, October 29, millions of households in the big apple as well as Jersey City and Hoboken can access Blue Apron meals through same-day or next-day delivery via Jet’s new City Grocery offering for a $6 scheduling fee.
At launch, the two companies are only offering four meal kits, although they sound mighty tasty. Blue Apron and Jet note that the kits will rotate about every six weeks. The first meals include a seared steaks and pasta kit, a Middle Eastern-inspired spiced beef with couscous, something called Togarashi popcorn chicken with sweet chili slaw and Jasmine Rice. Things have come a long way since Hungry Man TV dinners. The meals range in price from $17 for an Italian farro bowl to $23 for those aforementioned steaks.
The recipes were developed by Blue Apron’s culinary team based on extensive feedback from customers about their preferred “flavor profiles” and cooking preferences. The recipes were also specifically designed for a busy urban audience, so they can all be prepared in a half-hour or less. The model is well-suited to Jet’s platform, which is intended to give users a better tailored shopping experience that features a curated assortment of brands.
The new offering is part of Jet’s new City Grocery platform, which provides consumers with three-hour scheduled delivery windows for groceries, everyday essentials, and other select merchandise. Essentially, this lets Jet offer Blue Apron’s meals to consumers on demand, instead of having to schedule a delivery from Blue Apron further in advance.
“Teaming up with Jet enables us to dynamically serve the lifestyle of metropolitan consumers who will now be able to conveniently fill up their online shopping carts with high-quality Blue Apron meals that can be cooked in 30 minutes or less while shopping for other everyday needs,” Blue Apron CEO Brad Dickerson said in a release. “This exciting launch is another step forward in our channel expansion strategy and reflects the strengths of the capabilities we are developing to readily support a variety of opportunities to broaden our access to customers.”
This is another volley in a competition that has been smoldering for a while. Jet was acquired by Walmart in 2016 for $3.3 billion, so this is a big red flag for competitors like Amazon’s Prime Now Service, Whole Foods’ expanding range of delivery and pickup options, and market leader Fresh Direct.
It seems like an important experiment for Blue Apron, which has failed to prevent customer defections even as more and more companies enter the meal-kit space. Blue Apron has been eager to create new distribution channels, looking to venues like Costco and other delivery services like GrubHub to reach new customers.
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