Meal kit subscriptions and third-party delivery services together will drain $30 billion to $40 billion per year from the foodservice market by 2020 – up from practically nothing just five years ago, said Technomic principal Wade Hanson at the recent NRA Show Foodservice@Retail Summit.

Consumers like them because they know ingredients are fresh, they can satisfy any cravings whenever they want, and they can easily try foods and restaurants they never experienced before, he explained.

Consumers agreed at double-digit rates that meal kits (like Blue Apron), third-party delivery (like GrubHub), prepared meal services, grocery delivery, and delivery-only restaurant kitchens “help add variety” and “are good to use sometimes, but not everyday” - while 8% to 14% call them “a good fit for my daily life.”
For these reasons, between 47% and 60% of consumers already say they “would consider using these in the future.”  Grocery delivery topped the list at 60% because “they know the quality they’ll get and trust them on food safety,” noted Mr. Hanson.

Meal kit subscriptions alone have soared 50% per year over the past five years – reaching $1 billion in 2015 and forecast to approach $9 billion by 2020.  “In 2015, just 1.5% of U.S. households tried meal kits at least once a year.  By 2020, that will be 13%,” he noted.

By viewing these as opportunities, he said:  “Supermarkets can absolutely offer meal kits.  Indeed, more than half of consumers between age 25 and 44 want “retail stores to offer options that help me plan future meals.”  Every age group wants this more than they expressed in 2012.

Whole Foods Market, Kroger, Giant Eagle and Publix are among chains that started doing it. Supermarkets can align with third-party delivery companies.  Consumers can have cravings for food from restaurants, or from supermarkets.  "We want to give them the opportunity to have food delivered to their homes.  These programs aren’t going away.  It’s time to look at the marketplace and incorporate [new developments like these] into our business models,” Mr. Hanson urged.