A Series of Interesting — and Perhaps Fortunate — Events For Meal Kit Company Blue Apron
In the piece, I noted this about Blue Apron: “Meanwhile, U.S. start-up Blue Apron, which according to research firm 1010data generates more than three times the sales of its closest competitor in the meal kit space, has just launched a 60-second commercial called, ‘Better Food, From Scratch.’ The spot positions its meal-kits not so much as a convenient alternative, the original positioning, but rather touts the fact Blue Apron has recently started working directly with farmers and small food producers to procure some of the ingredients for its meal kits. This repositioning suggests the convenience factor alone has not been enough for Blue Apron to build a profitable business on.”
On March 23, Blue Apron announced it had acquired highly-regarded Northern California-based ranch-to-retail sustainable meat company BN-Ranch, which was founded by Bill Niman, who previously founded and sold Niman Ranch, his first sustainable meat-focused startup.
The acquisition of BN-Ranch is the major move made by Blue Apron to reposition and differentiate the subscription meal kit company as something more than a mainstream player.
I knew Blue Apron was looking to make a major move when I wrote the January column — but I didn’t know it would be the BN-Ranch deal.
The latest turn of events occured last week when Reuters reported that Blue Apron hired two investment banking firms in preparation for launching an initial public offering (IPO) this year.
I speculated recently on Twitter that Blue Apron could be lining up an IPO, and that the BN-Ranch acquistion serves that shorter-term goal, along with the longer-term strategy of getting the meal kit company to make a profit. I believe my informed speculation is correct — I also believe, based on additional information I’ve been able to glean, that Blue Apron will launch an IPO this year.
Epilogue: What Next?
Assuming Blue Apron does its IPO this year, which will result in an infusion of cash for the company, I offer three strategic moves I suggest the meal kit company look at making — along with the obvious, which will be to invest in growing its subscription meal kit business:
- Launch a branded, refrigerated meal kit line featuring BN-Ranch sustainable meats, into selected grocery chains and mass-market retail.
- Create a subscription meat program featuring BN-Ranch meats. Become the sustainable meat version of Omaha Steaks.
- Look at launching “Blue Apron Meal Kit Kiosks” in selected venues. These venues might include shopping malls, food halls and similar captured consumer places and spaces where opportunity may be present.