Martha Stewart's meal kits have found a new home on Amazon.
On Tuesday, the lifestyle mogul and her meal kit partner Marley Spoon announced that customers in four metro areas will be able to order Stewart-crafted meals through the grocery delivery service AmazonFresh. Diners in New York, San Francisco, Dallas and Philadelphia will be able to order Martha & Marley Spoon meals—home cooking kits that come with recipe cards and pre-portioned foods—that serve two. Past recipes for the service have included tortellini minestrone and beef and root vegetable stew.
The pact with Amazon (amzn) is significant because it is yet another way Marley Spoon is aiming to stand out in a very crowded meal-kit delivery space.
There are more than 150 meal delivery kit services in the U.S. today—including Blue Apron, HelloFresh and Plated—all targeting a slim group of Americans that have tried those kits and all trying to get more Americans to try the service. Meal kits are essentially aiming to "disrupt" two industries: grocery stores and restaurants. They are more convenient and introduce consumers to new ingredients, but are also criticized for excessive packaging and being too costly.
One key way that Martha & Marley Spoon's tie-in with AmazonFresh will help it stand out from rival offerings is that it allows a customer to order a meal kit without having to commit to several nights of meals that are ordered a week in advance. That's a big differentiating point as many meal kits require a weekly subscription commitment. Some consumers say they've canceled a meal kit service because they felt that the weekly commitment was too restrictive.
"We are setting a new standard for the meal kit industry by offering flexible delivery options, a variety of dishes to choose from and no meal plan service commitments via AmazonFresh," said Marley Spoon CEO and co-founder Fabian Siegel.
One issue that remains a challenge for Marley Spoon and others that compete in the meal kit space: cost. Meals shipped to homes generally cost about $10 per person, while the average cost per person for an in-home prepared meal is only $4. And while meal kits are less expensive than eating out at a restaurant, most consumers view them as a replacement for cooking at home—making it tough to justify the mark up. Meal kit executives, however, say their offerings come with a basket of fresh produce, proteins, and unique and unusual flavorings that would be even more expensive if purchased at a grocery store.