Amazon has released its first “meal kits”, just days after revealing its intentions in the area by filing a trademark for the phrase: “We do the prep. You be the chef.”
Priced between $15.99 (for meals like “falafel patties with tomato sumac salad”) and $19.99 (for ones including “salmon nicoise salad with herb crust olive aioli”) for two portions, the meals are available to customers based in select cities where the company operates its Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service.
The selection remains slim so far, with just 17 meal options available to customers in Seattle, for example, although Amazon still offers meal kits from other companies including Tyson and Martha Stewart.
Shares in Blue Apron, the largest purveyor of meal kits in the US, fell 2.5% in the first 20 minutes of trading following the news. The decline follows an 11% fall on Monday sparked by the revelation that Amazon had trademarked a slogan for use in providing “prepared food kits composed of meat, poultry, fish, seafood, fruit and/or vegetables … ready for cooking and assembly as a meal.”
Blue Apron is the only publicly traded company which is a pure competitor to Amazon’s meal kits, with most others being privately held. But they too will feel the squeeze: HelloFresh, Europe’s largest meal kit service, is reportedly planning to go public this autumn, and as of May had a valuation of $2bn. That may decline now that a deep-pocketed competitor is in play.
Amazon has already shown significant desire to expand into food delivery, the last major retail stronghold where it has an undersized presence.
The company’s grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh, is available in 13 US cities, as well as London, Tokyo and Berlin.
In Britain, the company has also partnered with supermarket Morrisons to deliver food and other goods through its Amazon Prime Now same-day delivery service
In the US, it took a much larger step into the food market in June, announcing a $13.7bn acquisition of US organic grocer Whole Foods.