The meal delivery industry has seen more ups and downs than a rollercoaster. From Forbes calling meal kits “DOA” to the industry skyrocketing in 2020, it’s been a wild ride.
So much of the talk around meal kits is predicated on misinformation like “it’s too expensive to work” (Dinnerly and EveryPlate are both under $5 per serving) or “it’s too much waste” (most of the popular meal delivery services are fully recyclable and even partially compostable). It’s important to look at the facts to get a better picture of what’s going on in the meal delivery industry.
That’s exactly why I put this meal delivery statistics article together. It took a lot of time and effort to research but by compiling and dissecting these stats, I hope to provide a better overview of how the industry is really doing.
Meal Kit Delivery Services Market Size Are Projected To Be Worth $19.92 Billion By 2027 [Source]
One of the most interesting things to happen because of at-home quarantining in early 2020 is how people purchase food. As we’ll see a little later on, statistics show there was a huge shift in meal kit purchases right as the pandemic hit. The real question now is, which meal delivery company is going to be around by 2025 and which will be acquired by some bigger company (like what HelloFresh is doing to dominate the market).
77% Of Americans Would Rather Eat A Homemade Meal Than Eat Out In 2019 [Source]
In a survey by online grocery, PeaPod, they found that over two-thirds of Americans do not want to go out to eat at a restaurant. What's interesting is this was before the 2020 pandemic began. These numbers don’t only skew to older generations. The survey goes on to say that 59% of millennials plan to cook more too.
Premade Meal Delivery Services Are Bringing In More Revenue. The “Heat And Eat” Segment Led The Market And Accounted For More Than 65% Share Of The Global Revenue In 2019. [Source]
With statistics like this, it’s no wonder why we’re seeing more premade meal delivery service companies get acquired. For example, Freshly was recently purchased by Nestle and Factor Meals was purchased by HelloFresh. Even traditional meal kits are starting to pivot and include more premade options. For example, Sunbasket has a marketplace full of premade food options such as pre-cooked meats, snacks, sides, and more.
Americans Spent $100 Million On Meal Kits In The Month Ending April 11 2020, Doubling Sales From 2019, According To Nielsen. [Source]
As mentioned above, the pandemic seems to have fueled the growth of the meal delivery industry in 2020 and this statistic from Nielsen confirms it.
The Share Of The Population Using Meal Kits Has Grown To 7% Since The Pandemic Began, After Being Stuck At 5% All Of Last Year, According To Darren Seifer, A Food And Beverage Analyst With NPD Group. [Source]
Now the real question is, will this upward trend continue through 2021 and beyond? Only time will tell.
Hello Fresh Has Seen Its Sales Growth Increase To Over 90% Year Over Year In 2020 From 40%, As Has Trailing Leader Home Chef, Whose Sales Growth Has Increased To Over 50% Year Over Year From An Average Of 10% Year To Date. [Source]
The two biggest players in the meal kit industry right now are HelloFresh and Home Chef. Interestingly, Blue Apron has been slowly declining over the years, even though they once were one of the most popular meal kits around. This just goes to show how volatile the industry can be.
On Average, Blue Apron Now Retains 13% Of Its Customers From 12 Months Prior, While HelloFresh’s Retention Rate Rose To 11 Percent Over The Same Period. [Source]
Even though Blue Apron may not be the most popular meal kit around anymore, they seem to have a better likelihood of retaining customers long-term when compared to HelloFresh.
81% Believe Meal Kits Are Healthier Than Prepared Foods From Local Grocery Stores. [Source]
One of the biggest selling points for a lot of meal kits out there is the ability to customize it based on your diet—low-carb, keto, paleo, etc. As such, it attracts people who are looking to eat healthier.
Affluent Consumers Earning An Annual Income Of Over $100k Drove Meal Kit Growth Across Online And In-Store In 2018. [Source]
With most meal kits having a per-meal cost over or around $8 (and some premade meal delivery services going as high as $12 per meal) it makes sense why they attract a more affluent demographic. However, we are seeing something interesting occurring with pricing. Due to all of the competition in the market and the fact that all of these services are vying to retain customers, they’re keeping prices low and even lowering them more. For example, the cheapest meal kit as of writing this is Dinnerly at $4.69 per meal. Seeing as how the average person spends around $3 per meal, Dinnerly is very close to being affordable for everyone. I used this example to show that, while more affluent people are using meal kits, they aren’t all necessarily expensive.
Households With Children Have Been Earlier Adopter Of Meal Kits, With 20% Having Tried Them At Least Once. [Source]
Since most parents have their hands full raising their kids, most are looking for easy ways to reclaim time. Meal kits are one way of doing so. What’s more, meal delivery services like Nurture Life actually provide prepared meals for all age ranges—babies to adults. We’re also starting to see more kid-specific meal delivery services.
Current Users Are Highly Satisfied With Meal Kit Services, With Over 91% Indicating That They Were Very Or Extremely Satisfied With Their Meal Kit. [Source]
This one surprised me because between the Food Box HQ site and our YouTube channel, we see a wide range of comments from people who either love or hate meal kits. This statistic puts things into a clearer perspective for me personally. What’s confusing though is, while the overwhelming majority of people are satisfied with their meal kit, the industry is still having a hard time retaining customers.
Meal Kit Buyers Are 1.2x More Likely To Seek Quick-And-Easy Meal Solutions, 1.4x More Likely To Partake In Meal Planning, And 1.7x More Likely To Admit They Need A Little Help In The Kitchen. [Source]
The biggest selling point and reason for which people purchase meal kits is, not surprisingly, ease of use and convenience.
Top Reasons For Meal Kit Purchases Were “Saves Me Time Meal Planning” (43.4%) And “Saves Me Time Shopping” (36.0%), Followed By The Number Three Option “To Try New Cuisines” (32.7%). [Source]
Going off of the above statistic, another big reason why people decide to use a meal kit is to regain time. We’ve seen a lot of meal kits realize this and add more time saving recipes to their menu. For example, Home Chef released a new line of meals called “Fresh and Easy” which focus on saving the user as much time as possible through microwavable and oven-ready meals.
What's Next For The Meal Delivery Industry?
While the meal delivery industry initially started off sluggish, 2020 has shown that a lot of customers value meal kits. There’s definitely a ways to go before they’re adopted nationwide but, based on the above stats, meal kits currently have a strong foothold and seem gaining more and more traction.
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