Meal kit price war heats up
The battle for households seeking to dine conveniently and creatively on a budget has intensified, with German behemoth ALDI taking on HelloFresh and MarleySpoon's cheapie delivery services.
HelloFresh's budget delivery meal kit service EveryPlate, which launched in August, embarked on a charm offensive after the German supermarket giant unveiled its own $3.99 meal kit product, available in stores, this week.
EveryPlate is offering meals from $4.79 per plate, putting it in direct competition with Dinnerly, which has "Feed a Crowd" options with a whopping 36 serves at $3.48 per portion.
Both have options to feed as few as two people per meal and all the ingredients are pre-portioned - excluding reasonably assumed pantry staples such as oil, salt and pepper - to save consumers money on one-off ingredients and reduce food waste.
In a bid to draw in new customers, EveryPlate is providing an introductory offer from $2.87 per plate on their first box.
Both companies are operating on the simple premise their kits are convenient for time-poor people, provide inspiration for even the most seasoned but jaded home cook and also teach skills to kitchen novices.
EveryPlate chief executive Tom Rutledge said this entirely new form of grocery sales was already on a good trajectory before COVID-19 struck and gained huge traction afterwards as Australians avoided going out shopping.
Even experienced, keen home cooks discovered it was a great way to explore cuisines they had not before, Mr Rutledge said, and they could save their energy creating their own dishes on weekends while having the ease of recipes brought to their door during the working week.
"People not having the time to shop is certainly a big driver. There's mental convenience as well - there's an element of not having to think in too great a detail about what it is that you're going to be cooking and what it is that you need to buy," he told NCA NewsWire on Friday.
Running out of ideas in the kitchen happened to all of us, Mr Rutledge said.
"You just get into that dinner rut and your repertoire shrinks."
HelloFresh, which is also Germany-headquartered, focused on establishing itself first and building up the business before moving into the budget realm, which was a logical next step, he said.
EveryPlate is available in all Australian states excluding South Australia and the Northern Territory due to biosecurity hurdles, but plans to eventually roll out to those jurisdictions.
Both EveryPlate and Dinnerly seek to source produce locally where possible.
"We're dealing with the seasons. At one point in the year, we're eating our cucumbers from Queensland and later in the year I'm sure they're coming from a glasshouse in South Australia," Mr Rutledge said.
"That would be the case with respect of whatever grocery service you're going through."
He said the new ALDI meal kit offering was a "far cry" from the delivered versions for various reasons including lower variety of recipes and requiring shopping for more additional items.
Supermarkets were most certainly keenly watching the success of delivery meal kit businesses, Mr Rutledge said.
"In most other markets, most supermarkets have attempted a meal kit play of some sort or another, with what we've seen, historically, quite limited success," he said.
"I think that is because supermarkets have got fundamentally different supply chains - they're built and they work on real-world infrastructure and their speciality is to compete on assortment and range, and those distribution capabilities and price, of course.
"Whereas the meal kit supply chain it skips distribution centres and the need to stay at the back of a shop and sit on a shelf until someone comes along and decides they may or may not like to buy it.
"We just collect our orders from our customers and in turn place our orders with our suppliers.
"We manufacture the product and get it straight to their doorsteps.
"We've got so little waste in our model ... essentially every carrot that hits our warehouse has someone's name on it and they also know what they're using it for.
"And that also allows us to build our insight into what people want to eat because we know who is cooking what."
ALDI said its move into the world of cooking kits was an Australian supermarket first.
"We have all felt meal-fatigue, where having to conjure up a new, healthy dinner idea feels overwhelming at best," the chain spruiked.
"ALDI's new range of meal kits are the affordable and convenient solution to bring new fresh ideas to your dinner table, whether it's Pad Thai, Butter Chicken or Chilli Con Carne."
ALDI says the kits include fresh ingredients and specially created sauce to pair with some protein and a few other key ingredients to make meals that won't take longer than 30 minutes.
Each kit also includes a QR code showing shoppers an easy to follow recipe with suggested sides and optional extras if they want to step up their dinner game.
Also this week, Marley Spoon announced it was one of the launch partners for new micro-investing platform Upstreet, which allows shoppers to earn a fractional share in the brand they're shopping with.
BWS, Adairs, Catch.com.au and The Good Guys are among other partners.
"Marley Spoon has been trialling the new technology since October last year and early results have shown uplifts in order frequency and basket size, as well as a reduction in cancellations amongst users," the company said.
"The offer to sign up is now being extended to the rest of Marley Spoon's Australian customer base."
Originally published as Meal kit price war heats up