A service that only a very small percentage of the population has tried is still causing significant changes in a long-established industry and one that has remained fundamentally the same for decades. The service is food hampers and recipe kit delivery and the industry is restaurants.
Despite the buzz that surrounds them, recipe kit subscriptions are growing slower than anticipated. Additionally, less than half of those who subscribe to the services renew their subscriptions. Despite this venture, capitalists continue to pour money into the sector and new services continue to hit the market.
Food hampers have been around for a long time but were basically used as holiday or gift items. Hundreds of companies now provide hamper subscriptions that deliver everything from staples to Charcuterie and foie gras.
Factors behind growth of hampers and recipe kits
There are a number of factors that play into the rise of these services. The rise of the “foodie” along with better educated consumers is a major factor. Consumers are looking for new dining experiences and fresh ingredients.
Convenience and saving time are cited as a major reason for consumers to try hampers and recipe kits. It seems that despite the number of “time-saving” aspects of modern life, a large majority of the population seems to lack free time.
Millennials are another factor behind the growth of both services. Despite working fewer hours than any previous generation, millennials eat out more than any other group and seem to embrace and value convenience above most other factors.
Changes in Restaurants
Even though both hampers and recipe kits are used by a very small percentage of people, the restaurant industry says that both of the services, along with mobile delivery apps are changing their businesses.
Some upper-end and specialty restaurants have seen a decline in reservations as diners opt to take the experience in their homes instead of going out. At the same time, the demand for simple and authentic street food has grown substantially.
Restaurants are also having to change their menus in order to enhance their image for providing the best selections and variety. Recently recipe kits have purchased the entire supply of exotic and rare vegetables like fairy-tale eggplants, Shokichi Shiro squash and Atlas carrots. Image is an important aspect in the entire dining out experience and something many restaurants need to address.
Restaurants are also adjusting the traditional staffing and structure methods. Many busy and popular restaurants who offer their own hampers and are available on mobile delivery services have stated that adjustments were necessary as kitchen staff were overwhelmed by outside orders, often to the detriment for restaurant guests.
Other Sectors Are Also Changing
The effect of hampers and recipe kits is not limited to restaurants. They are proving to be a disturber for other traditional services as well:
Grocery stores have also listed recipe kits and hamper subscriptions for a slowdown in sales. Increasing grocers are offering a larger selection of specialty fruits and vegetables, organic items and fresh ready-to-cook items.
While most of these items are more expensive than similar items that are standard grocery items, grocers can still point to the value offered as the same items in a hamper or recipe kit are substantially more expensive. Other grocers have started to offer their own hamper subscriptions.
Guests attending trade shows, fan conventions and specialty competitions have often been confronted with the dilemma of finding meals that meet their tastes or their specific dietary needs.
A growing number of businesses have launched which provide attendees at such events, like conference venues, custom hamper and meal delivery for the duration of the convention or event. While these services are more common in areas with a great deal of conference business, a number of entrepreneurs have launched services that provide the services such as subscriptions, meal kits and even person chefs. Some of these entrepreneurs travel from location to location, while some hire temporary staff in the various cities.
At one point one of the predominate on demand services was same day flower delivery; that is changing quickly.
Wine delivery companies are also becoming more common worldwide. While many operate on the traditional monthly subscription model or wine deals, others have set up suppliers and warehouses in a number of places that enable them to deliver wines within hours to accommodate last minute guests, or for spur-of-the moment events.
Not too long ago, coffee was almost a generic item. The arrival of coffee shops, such as Starbucks, changed that. Coffee drinkers now have a wide choice of coffee hamper subscriptions that deliver everything from standard beans, rare (and very expensive) beans from around the world and organic coffee beans wholesale.
In addition to the beans, some subscription services offer coffee accessories including standard items like filters and mugs to state of the art espresso and cold brew machines. It remains to be seen if the food hamper and recipe sector will indeed become a major force in the food industry. Both face a number of real issues including making the costs more competitive when compared to grocers and dining out. Another obstacle for both services is keeping the subscribers engaged with the service. In order to succeed most will have to offer far more than their main benefit which is convenience.
Even if the hamper and recipe kit companies do not achieve a major foothold in the food and dining sector, along with the proliferation of on-demand delivery services they are fundamentally changing the restaurant and grocery market. They are also influencing other sectors such as beer, wine, coffee and even snacks.