It was only a matter of time.
The Sunday Times has found a trademark registration from Amazon that tells it all:
The internet retailer has registered a trademark in the US for a new service called “We do the prep. You be the chef”. It will cover “prepared food kits . . . ready for assembly as a meal”, according to its application.
The filing is under 1B status, meaning it’s an application “based on intent to use,” according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Blue Apron’s shareprice took, as one would expect, a serious hit from this news.
But is it really that bad a news for Blue Apron? One could easily argue that there is more than enough room in the US market for a dedicated meal-kit service besides whatever Amazon will soon offer.
In fact, as we argued before, Amazon’s entry in the market will help make the concept of meal-kits go faster into the mainstream:
Amazon going into meal-kits in a big fashion with its future Whole Foods division could actually help Blue Apron in making meal-kits themselves more widely known and more accepted as way of buying food. The market they operate in is still comparatively small[…]
Of course, Amazon as a competitor is far from being good news for Blue Apron:
- Blue Apron is only operating in the US right now.
- Meal kits are a natural extension/add-on to delivering groceries traditionally.
- In fact, the combination of Amazon Prime and Whole Foods and a new meal-kit delivery service by Amazon may become a big threat to Blue Apron in due time. (meal-kits are a also a perfect fit for Amazon itself: They lend themselves to a subscription model, cross-subsidies within food services and business model experimentation in general.)
Timingwise, this is really bad news for HelloFresh and Rocket Internet though.
HelloFresh was supposed to be the next IPO out of Rocket’s portfolio after Delivery Hero, which went public a few weeks ago. After watching how much confidence investors are having in Blue Apron after just a news report of Amazon registering a trademark for meal-kits (think about that chain of events for a second), how do you see a HelloFresh IPO going? Herd mentality is strong at Wall Street.
HelloFresh has an advantage over Blue Apron. The company, which started in Germany, is active in 9 countries. But the US are HelloFresh’s biggest market nowadays. Can HelloFresh succeed against Amazon and Blue Apron in the US? I’d love to hear that investor story.
So, you won’t see any red snapper, green tomatoes or purple carrots in this box.
Instead, the company will incorporate recipes for meals like spaghetti and meatballs, cheesy chipotle beef tacos and pan roasted chicken with potatoes.
Siegel said kids don’t appreciate the fancy special ingredients in Marley Spoon’s other box. Replacing those items with kid-friendly foods makes the meal kit a better fit for families with younger children.
Prices per serving remain an issue. Meal-kits are only going to truly show their potential at scale. That is why Amazon’s entry in the category is both promising and freightening for the still-young sector.