Moveable Feasts

After a bit of a lull in activity, March 2018 has brought a number of new ventures involving licensed properties and meal kits:

  • Marley Kitchen, a brand launched by the Bob Marley estate, paired with meal-delivery company Chef’d for a co-branded collection of Caribbean-inspired meals based on recipes provided by members of the family (three out of four of whom have published cookbooks).
  • Meredith partnered with eMeals for a line of weekly meal plan solutions curated by the editors of Allrecipes, EatingWell, and Better Homes & Gardens. Consumers can select and purchase the ingredients themselves, have them assembled at Walmart or Kroger for pickup, or have them delivered through AmazonFresh, Instacart, and ultimately Shipt.
  • Weight Watchers said it would introduce a line of branded meal kits for distribution through grocery stores. This initiative is in addition to an existing agreement with Chef’d, under which consumers can select meals that are approved by the weight-loss company and receive them on their doorstep.

There has been a stream of other meal kit-related news this month as well, reflecting how quickly this sector is changing. The evolution is particularly notable when it comes to distribution, with more marketers heading toward an omnichannel approach.

Chef’d announced its meal kits, formerly available through delivery only, would be sold at 1,500 grocery locations by the end of May, while Blue Apron, which just entered into a six-month promotional relationship with Airbnb Experiences focusing on international dishes, is also adding physical stores to its distribution network. And Martha Stewart’s licensed kits, produced with Marley Spoon, became available on AmazonFresh in four cities, allowing for same-day delivery.

Additional retailers continue to join the meal kit fray, meanwhile, with Walmart launching its own private-label kits, expected to be in 2,000 stores by the end of the year; ShopRite introducing ethnic meal kits under The Chef’s Menu brand; and Carrefour purchasing Quitoque, a European meal kit provider.

Finally, in another example of how meal kit companies are consolidating, HelloFresh purchased organic specialist Green Chef, which gave it expertise as it expanded further into the organic, vegan, paleo, and other specialty areas.

The continuous change in the marketplace—affecting business models, product assortments, and especially where meal kits are sold—make entering the sector challenging for licensed properties. But the three deals mentioned above suggest that relevant IP owners continue to believe there are opportunities to be had in the licensed meal kit arena.

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