Are shoppable recipes a bigger opportunity than meal kits?

Source: EatLove
Dec 20, 2017
Tom Ryan

While meal kits have earned more buzz, a similar yet simpler option gaining traction are online shoppable recipes, as with those being pushed currently by Amazon.

In mid-November, AmazonFresh partnered with EatLove, the personalized nutrition platform and meal planning service, as one of its first recipe integration providers.

Analyzing an individual’s nutrition, health and lifestyle goals, food allergies as well as personal tastes and preferences, EatLove’s platform creates a customized meal plan for the week, complete with an optimized grocery list and recipes. Customers check off the ingredients they already have at home, and order remaining grocery items through AmazonFresh.

EatLove CEO Monique Nadeau said in a statement, “Our advanced algorithms can instantly analyze more than three million dietary factors to create the perfect meal plan and grocery list, optimized across the week’s recipes ensuring ‘meal kit’ efficiencies at less than half the cost.”

The cost savings come from the use of standard grocery packaging versus the need to measure and individually bag ingredients in recipe portions as meal kits do. Shoppable recipe services also aid in recipe discovery and save time versus finding all the ingredients at a grocery store.

Amazon has also recently partnered with Allrecipes and Fexy Media, owner of Serious Eats and Simply Recipes.

Many other grocers have likewise integrated meal planning and purchasing through similar partnerships or on their own.

eMeals, the first meal kit solution to integrate with online grocery programs, recently added AmazonFresh to its lineup of partners that includes Walmart, Kroger, ClickList and Instacart.

Subscribers pick among 100 new weekly recipe options, a shopping list is automatically generated, and home delivery is scheduled. Kroger and Walmart also offer store pickup. The service likewise promises up to 50 percent savings in per-serving food costs compared to conventional meal kit providers.

Said eMeals CEO Forrest Collier, “Adding AmazonFresh to our fulfillment lineup expands our reach to most of the top players in online grocery and advances our mission of giving customers more choice, flexibility and affordability than any other meal kit service.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do shoppable recipes offer more growth potential for grocers than meal kits? What obvious and less obvious execution issues may prevent grocers from fully tapping the opportunity?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"The key here is shopper analytics."
"The idea that you can browse recipes online, add everything you need to a basket, order and have it delivered makes a lot of sense..."
"I believe there is a future for these services, but I think they should focus on generalized nutrition and convenience."

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16 Comments on "Are shoppable recipes a bigger opportunity than meal kits?"

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Paula Rosenblum

I think so. I used a meal kit company for a couple of weeks and I found the use of packaging so excessive that it embarrassed me. I mean, there’s no other way to do it, but it’s so wasteful.

Phil Masiello

The problem consumers have been trying to solve for many years is “What should I make for dinner?” The attempts to address the problem have been to deliver either fully prepared meals or ready-to-cook meal kits. But neither really address the problem adequately as evidenced by their struggles to scale profitably.

Shoppable recipes are closer to the solution for both the consumer and supermarket. The consumer can use this to plan their meals for the week around their dietary needs, not having to settle for what is in a meal kit.

Grocers should embrace this solution and market it heavily. The obstacle is always understanding the customer and making the solution simple for them.

Jennifer McDermott

I believe that shoppable recipes present a great opportunity — whether they present one more so than meal kits is to be determined. I believe they serve different customer sets. The meal kits are for those who want the comfort of a home cooked meal with the convenience of ordering while shoppable recipes are for those who love to cook, but seek inspiration for new and different pairings. Of course there will be crossovers between the two but I think they both have their place for growth.

Ron Margulis

The key here is shopper analytics. Imagine what a turnoff it would be for a vegan to receive a recipe for chateaubriand or for a carnivore to receive a recipe with tofu and quinoa. Using loyalty card data or even market basket data for recipe information will help engage the shopper. Take that a step further with meal suggestions for special occasions and demographic sectors, and retailers will have a real winner.

Anne Howe

My recent experience with meal kits left me a bit hungry and sad that the veggies were old and not crisp. The veggie quantity was way less than expected for a stir-fry sort of meal. Shoppable recipes have way more potential. The upside is that if my local store associate picks old produce, I can go talk it over and get my preferences documented.
I’m also in complete agreement with Paula on the wastefulness of all the meal kit packaging.

Roy White

Shoppable recipes would seem to be the greater opportunity for both online and brick-and-mortar selling. They can prompt multiple purchases. They open up the opportunity to provide nutrition services with the active participation of the shopper. Perhaps the greatest opportunity lies in private label. A deck of recipes composed a retailer’s own brand’s products would be a powerful brand ambassador and would bolster store brand sales.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)

Shoppable recipes overcome the meal kit problems of packaging, portion and preservatives and allow the discovery and customizing that are the additional rewards of food preparation. The term “some assembly required” always applies to meals. That being the case, doesn’t it make sense to draw on the strengths of each component element (i.e. fresh, frozen, refined, etc.)?

Ryan Mathews

Meal kits eliminate the guesswork and present the consumer with one job — assemble and cook. The shoppable recipe approach does roughly the same thing BUT the results depend on the quality of the ingredients the customer had lying around her or his kitchen, require proper prep and measuring, etc.

One more caveat: most of us have a general sense of what we should be eating more of — fruits, vegetables, maybe fish — and what we should be eating less of — sugar, fat and salt. The problem isn’t that we need someone to tell us what to eat, but that we like eating the bad stuff. Also, this wanders dangerously close to a line I think retailers should never cross — the pseudo-science of good health. What happens when the first EatLove customers develop cancer or coronary heart disease? Has the company failed? I believe there is a future for these services, but I think they should focus on generalized nutrition and convenience.

Byron Kerr
Byron Kerr
Head of Amazon, Tuft & Needle
1 year 7 months ago

There’s a huge opportunity here. While meal kits allow for lifestyle-driven decision making based on health choices (i.e. a paleo service vs. a vegetarian service), shoppable recipes allow for higher level of choice and flexibility.

Browse a recipe you like, add the items you don’t have to your Amazon Fresh cart and have them at your door same-day to cook that night. A brilliant opportunity that should drive activation and help Amazon strengthen their grocery service.

Joy Chen

Shoppable recipes offer an alternative to meal kits that may be more cost efficient and addresses people’s food allergies. The analytics will provide a bit more growth to grocers to further curate recipes that are more customized. The bigger challenge is how to make this more convenient than meal kits and other food service alternatives while keeping the cost down.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.

To me the differentiating factor of EatLove is the complicated algorithm they using by including so many factors. I tried two of the current meal solution providers, went through making my choices, completed my profile and then received a message saying that because of my allergies I should not order. Remember that personalization and customization are critical for success in today’s market. Getting it right regarding good health is extremely difficult given allergies, special diets required for health reasons and, oh yes, taste. Without taking those issues into account, any of the solutions will reach limited success.

Cate Trotter

Shoppable recipes offer more control than meal kits. With a kit there’s an element of surprise (which is a key selling point as it exposes you to new ideas and tastes), but you often get what you’re given and that may not be to your taste. The idea that you can browse recipes online, add everything you need to a basket, order and have it delivered makes a lot of sense, and hopefully might cut down on waste because everything you buy is allocated to use in a meal. So I think there’s a lot of opportunity here. However my favorite example of shoppable recipes isn’t online, but is Kochhaus’ in-store concept where everything you need to create a recipe (and an instruction card) is gathered together in the store for easy buying.

Lee Kent

I too like the idea of shoppable recipes but once again, in-store. This could be a great way to use AI as well. Plan out a weekly meal plan and what ingredients are needed and send the person to the store with the list or to pick up. Easy-peasy. For my 2 cents.

Julie Bernard

With data-driven recommendations informing shoppable recipes, a grocer/provider can deliver on the promise of anticipatory inspiration, introducing new ideas for the consumer in a data-driven way. The inclusion of a recipe card/guide is helpful and solves consumer problems.

Keeping the shoppable recipes digital — more specifically, mobile — should also be top-of-mind. If the kitchen-consumer can scan the recipe card to bring up a video that shows exactly how to prepare the items, the potential for positive user experiences improves, as does access to details of customer wants and needs that the brand can learn and incorporate into future strategies. This concept is similar to what the fashion-apparel industry has been offering for years with Buy-the-Look and Complete-the-Look experiences whereby a consumer can purchase all the items shown on a model, putting together outfits that make them feel confident, modern, and inspired.

As long as the consumer can de-select the items they might already have in their pantry, purchasing only items they need to make the recipe, this is a terrific idea.

Tjarko Leifer
1 year 6 months ago

Nice article Tom. At wellio we agree that shoppable recipes overcome the downsides of meal kits — inflexibility, limited variety, high cost and excessive packaging waste. And shoppable recipes turn recipe sites into commerce sites, monetizing their content in a way that adds value for their readers instead of filling the site with low-relevance display ads.

Doing shoppable recipes well requires connecting unstructured recipes, grocery items, nutrition information and personal preferences. This is what we’re doing at wellio using the latest in AI and integrating culinary and nutrition expertise. Happy to connect with recipe publishers, grocers and others interested in creating new experiences for home chefs.

Monique Nadeau
Tom, many thanks for the insightful article. Customers expect personalization in nearly every area of their lives, including weekly meals, while increasingly embracing the direct connection between good food and better health. Until now, the link between health and lifestyle goals and weekly shopping has been intangible at best — this has now changed dramatically. At EatLove and through our collaboration with AmazonFresh, our aim is to deliver what we call “comprehensive personalization” taking into account all the necessary variables including food allergies, preferences, and food waste to create the optimal meal plan. Food is the medicine we eat three times a day and one size doesn’t fit all. Our advanced technology builds recommendations instantly, based in part, from the mapping of 160 macro/micro nutrients. We work closely with hundreds of talented registered dietitians to ensure that our meal plans are completely aligned with the latest nutritional science. Within a weekly plan, a meal kit could be a Thursday night solution for some consumers as we believe the true innovation is the ability for the… Read more »
"The key here is shopper analytics."
"The idea that you can browse recipes online, add everything you need to a basket, order and have it delivered makes a lot of sense..."
"I believe there is a future for these services, but I think they should focus on generalized nutrition and convenience."

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