Author: Christine Blank
Customers, shareholders and others were heard praising Amazon.com’s USD 13.7 billion (EUR 11.7 billion) acquisition of Whole Foods Market when it was announced back in June.
The potential seismic shifts in store for the grocery sector at the other end of such a massive merger seemed endless, with food suppliers and consumer groups eagerly anticipating what could possibly come next. They didn’t have to wait long.
Amazon soon followed up its acquisition announcement with a 6 July trademark filing stating that it would enter the meal kit arena and develop its own farm-to-table products — a move that will benefit both Amazon’s and Whole Foods’ shoppers who crave delicious food, but don’t have a lot of time or foresight for preparation. Fittingly, Amazon has applied to trademark the phrase “We do the prep. You be the chef,” for its upcoming meal kit offerings, reported Techcrunch.
Notably, the meal kit expansion benefits existing seafood suppliers to both Amazon and Whole Foods, which operates more than 450 stores, with wiggle room for future suppliers to enter the game – Amazon’s trademark filing states that its prepared food kits will be composed of meat, poultry, fish, seafood, fruit/ vegetables, sauces and seasonings. Being able to acquire all these ingredients necessary for a substantial, delicious meal without hassle will not only benefit the stomachs of consumers, but also retail sales goals, according to Steven Johnson, grocerant guru at consulting firm Foodservice Solutions.
“The ability for consumer to get meals, meal kits, or portions for seafood delivered without wasting time shopping or waiting for a portion to be cut/customized within the stores will contribute to higher sales,” Johnson told SeafoodSource. “So, selling sustainable salmon would be a perfect example of what they can and should be doing.”
Likewise, Amazon can edify its relationship with customers by offering personalized, customized, targeted meals and meal kit offerings by days of the week, by meal period, and by specific customer preferences, according to Johnson. The meal kits will likely be tailored for a family of two, three, four or five.
“Amazon will know when to send you specials, what you like to eat on which days, and most important….they understand the pricing elasticity of each family,” Johnson said.
And Amazon – already an expert in fast delivery via Prime Now and AmazonFresh – will also be able to appease time-starved shoppers with its new meal kits.
“Because fresh seafood carries the halo of ‘better for you’ in the minds-eye of the consumer, both the Amazon and Whole Foods brands will benefit by offering customers a better for you product delivered within an hour,” Johnson said.
Whole Foods already has a substantial prepared meals program, including some of its numerous sustainable seafood offerings. The retailers’ customers will also likely be able to receive the meal kits via delivery, since the chain added one-hour delivery service via Instacart. Such convenience has become a hallmark appeal for meal kits and their makers, including Hello Fresh and Blue Apron, which have become so popular in part because many people don’t enjoy the grocery shopping experience and “lack the cooking skillset required to prepare a ‘restaurant quality’ meal,” Johnson said.
Seafood suppliers should take advantage of the meal kit trend – along with consumers seeking healthier foods – and cement their relationships with Amazon, Whole Foods and other retailers now. Kroger is just one notable example of a large United States supermarket chain that has gotten into the surging meal kit industry in the past year, along with Florida-based Publix. Moreover, seafood product designs, such as those touted by Oregon’s Fishpeople Seafood, are shifting to accommodate the meal kit aesthetic, and should be on the radar for suppliers hoping to innovate along the pulse of this rising trend.