Today’s work demand pattern leaves many citizens with less time to go grocery shopping and prepare their meals at home. Luckily, meal delivery kits have provided a quick solution to the ever-busy citizens. They can subscribe to a meal-delivery kit and get the pre-prepared ingredients packaged and delivered to their homes. In the US, there are more than 100 companies offering meal kit delivery services. There are pros and cons associated with these services.
Meal delivery kits overview
The meal delivery kits industry is still new but it’s one of the most rapidly flourishing industries. The industry has so far attracted more than 100 companies and they all promise easy-to-prepare ingredients that provide customers with a real cooking experience.
On one hand, the kits help save grocery shopping time and families don’t need to prepare weekly meal plans. The industry has attracted a large number of middle-class customers and some companies like Blue Apron have already exceeded $2 billion in terms of value. International companies like Hello fresh has set base in the US and new entrants like Amazon, Home Chef, and Peach Dish have launched into the delivery of meal kits.
Although the industry is flourishing, some disadvantages have already begun to show. Some clients are complaining the price is too high, others are saying they still lack time to cook the ingredients while others are saying they are no longer connected to real cooking.
Nevertheless, the industry is not showing any signs of retreating because more people are subscribing to the service. Today, we will try to explore the way these kits are packaged, the recipes themselves, nutritional values, and promotions to help understand how they appeal to customers and the experience customers get. In particular, we will examine Blue Apron and Plated.
Communication research that helps present sustainable food
One of the ways meal delivery kits services are using to help them communicate the right information to clients is to work closely with research bodies that primarily focus on presenting food, food distribution, farming, and production through media.
According to the companies, food is mandatory for survival yet it’s not readily available anymore, nor is it equally produced today. As a result, food today represents an individual’s lifestyle other than something that helps sustain life. Therefore, according to the companies, you are identified by the food you eat/buy and food displays your culture, status in life, family status, political status, and so on.
In reality, food isn’t produced sustainably globally and many families don’t enjoy ‘good eating’ because they produce one type of food. Governments on the other hand are supposed to help families sustainably produce food and eat good and affordable food. This is a good catch the meal delivery kits companies are using to communicate the need to buy food from them and they are making huge profits out of that.
Media forms do not just advertise luxury, entitlement, relaxation, and personality through usage. They also possess the potential of excluding, marginalize, and/or idealize citizens and cultures that lack direct exposure to these leisure aspects of enjoyment or the financial means to engage in preparing food outside of the fantasy.
Considering all these aspects, it is clear that meal delivery kits companies like Blue Apron and Plated do not just sell food, but they also make citizens more mindful of food.
Let’s take a peek at how these corporations take out-of-context the proper cooking procedure for home cooks who prepare these dishes, and how these out-of-context meal-making processes are symbolic of worldwide food-chain consumption.
Changing the culture of food preparation
Blue Apron and Plated, for example, prepare and distribute meal delivery kit boxes that have all ingredients and set ready to cook Except if deliveries are skipped, customers can utilize applications to track their weekly deliveries.
On the other hand, the home cook is required to buy a few more ingredients like pepper, salt, and cooking oil if they are subscribed to Blue Apron. If they are subscribed to Plated, they are required to buy items like eggs, sometimes oil, and few other accessories. Food is well packed and each package in the delivery box will have at least 2 pieces of ice to help keep the food fresh.
The more fragile food is packaged in plastic bags while some non-fragile food like onions and garlic are not packaged. Sometimes included in the recipe are canned food like sauces and spices. Each ingredient is packaged separately and then everything is wrapped in one box.
Both Blue Apron and Plated source for food internationally from different cultures like Europe, India, China, South America, and Africa. They include a guide on how to prepare these ‘foreign’ foods and eat them at home instead of going to each in a restaurant.
These examples of food sourced from different cultures and adopted by a different culture represent the way food is connected to culture more deeply and they also define how people react to food systems.
While food manufacturers say that these recipes educate customers cooking expertise, culinary traditions, and environmentally friendly food manufacturing methods, cooking scientifically requires investment in terms of money and time. These companies use marketing strategies that present good eating as a reserve for the middle and upper class societies that the lower class communities cannot afford.
Commercialization of kits further communicates the message that the kit’s food is environmentally friendly, it’s easy to cook, and saves shopping time and meal planning. They connect the consumers to a globalized food chain where they can enjoy global cuisines in their homes.
Blue Apron uses its food kits to help manipulate society so that passive consumers become environmentally conscious producers who have no option but to face the reality of the amount of food wasted globally and as a result choose to buy a food box instead of grocery shopping. The food kits in a shadowed way offer food that seems to reduce waste but in reality, they produce a lot of waste as examined in the next section.
Environmental Impact caused by Meal delivery kits services
The high demand from customer asserts pressure upon Blue Apron and Plated companies to produce more food and use more packaging and delivery vans. On the farms, more food has to be produced, and sometimes the way it’s produced is never taken into account.
What the companies are concerned with is to produce more food and make more profits daily. To help these companies achieve their goal, the media becomes an important channel for passing down the message to the consumers.
There is a bigger problem though because every kit delivered to any consumer usually has more packaging several times more than if the same ingredients were bought from a store. The only part the kits seem to save the environment is saving gas that so many consumers would have burned driving to the store to buy groceries.
The ice bags that meal kits services use to package the food and keep it fresh averages to more than 192 thousand tons of waste annually. Blue Apron requested its customers to return the bags to them for packaging but to date, very few customers return them.
On the other hand, Plated is yet to offer any solution in terms of recycling the bags. The two companies employ a large labor force and during their ingredients preparation process, they produce a large amount of waste.
New processes that help confront food production
Blue Apron reiterated its commitment to support local and national food growers in a way that helps sustain the environment. Plated does not have an elaborate structure in terms of how they source their ingredients and their commitment to the environment.
Blue Apron’s statement for sustainability in the food systems is aimed at capturing consumer attention and woo them to buy from them because they care about the environment. The fact that Blue Apron and Plated deliver recipes with cooking instructions help the cook to prepare food just the company would have prepared.
It is like the cook and the company are preparing the food together right from the source to the kitchen. An entire community buying the kits from these companies participate in the same food culture that cuts across continental boundaries.
Preparing food with meal delivery kits like Blue Apron and Plated may so encourage customers to regard oneself as a food producer. This is a major shift in perceptions with significant economic ramifications.
Blue Apron and Plated both produce waste more than the waste produced when consumers buy directly from a grocery store or farm. Commercialization of agriculture means more has to be produced within a limited space and this puts pressure on the environment. The food kits companies seem to offer environmental solutions on one hand and take away all the solutions on the other by producing tons of waste in their factories and packaging. One advantage of the kits is intruding food culture from across a wide region globally.