Despite aggressive social media campaigns, meal delivery services are not coming close to replacing home-cooked meals. Yet.
According to research from The NPD Group, the buzz around meal kit delivery services like Blue Apron and HelloFresh, “may be greater than those who currently use the kits.” NPD says only about 3 percent of the U.S. adult population (18 and older) tried a meal-kit delivery service last year.
And while that is good news for those who sell kitchenware (with the goal that people will actually cook meals at home), the research group’s study, Thinking Inside the Box: A Fresh Look at Meal Kit Delivery Services, finds opportunities for growth in the meal kit category.
“The outlook for meal kits is uncertain since they’re still in their infancy stages and gaining trial among consumers,” says Darren Seifer, NPD Group’s food and beverage industry analyst. But there are opportunities for growth, he adds, “For meal kit providers to market around the reasons their customers are satisfied; for manufacturers to get in the kit box business; and for food service operators to leverage their ability to provide on demand delivery and meal variety.”
Much of that growth potential will come from targeting consumers who want to save time, the top reason given for using meal kits, which provide all of the ingredients necessary to prepare a meal. The NPD study also found that consumers also like that the kits make dinner easier to prepare and provide variety to meal times. Meaning that consumers are a bit stuck in a rut when it comes to cooking the evening meal.
The freshness of ingredients is also appealing to consumers, especially young adults, the report found. Those using meal kits are generally satisfied and two out of three kit users are extremely satisfied, the survey says.
While meal kits are typically used to replace an in-home dinner, Seifer notes that the cost of a kit runs about as much as a meal eaten out at a restaurant. “One of the main concerns about these services is the cost,” he says. The average cost for an in-home dinner is $4 and the average cost for an in-home dinner meal kit is $10.
NPD Meal Kit Survey Takeaways
- Only about 3 percent of those 18 and older in the U.S. tried a meal-kit delivery service in 2016
- Of those who used meal kits, two out of three users report being extremely satisfied with the service
- Meal kits cost more than in-home dinners: the average cost for an in-home dinner is $4 and a meal kit dinner runs about $10
- Saving time is the top reason consumers give for using meal kits
- Other reasons consumers opt for meal kits include ease of use and freshness (especially important to young adults surveyed)
Source: NPD Group, Thinking Inside the Box: A Fresh Look at Meal Kit Delivery Services,