Blue Apron VS HelloFresh - Are they Worth It? (Unboxing & Review)
The future of Blue Apron
The pork tacos were one of my favorite Blue Apron meals.
- My parents and I used to be loyal Blue Apron customers but stopped using the service.
- The issues we found, including quality of ingredients and long prep times, show deeper problems at the meal-kit company.
- Blue Apron just laid off hundreds of people following competition from Amazon and Kroger.
Blue Apron is in trouble.
The meal-kit company just fired hundreds of people as it faces competition from Amazon and Kroger, and a recent study found that new customers — which the company spends heavily to acquire — weren't sticking around very long.
I'm one of those. I used to be a loyal Blue Apron customer but ultimately decided to stop using the service. I believe that the shortcomings I found, in addition to sweeping changes in the industry, will spell doom for Blue Apron.
When I started using Blue Apron in May, I was infatuated.
The box at my door contained everything I needed for three gourmet meals (some of my favorites were the spaghetti bolognese with butter lettuce salad, the pork and cabbage tacos with pineapple, and the ).
I not only discovered meals I wouldn't normally make but could do so without spending time going to the store. Laying out perfect portions of meat, grains, vegetables, herbs, and spices next to the bright Blue Apron recipe card felt incredibly satisfying, and I started referring to making dinner as my "Zen time."
A sample meal from Blue Apron.
While Blue Apron is costly, at a meal, it was cheaper than my usual takeout.
I was quick to tell friends and family about what I had discovered. In the weeks after I signed up, I invited many friends over to cook with me, saving us the money of going out to dinner.
My enthusiasm for Blue Apron spurred my parents, who live in Ohio, to sign up too. Soon, our phone calls were dominated by discussions of which recipes we were cooking that week.
My infatuation quickly faded
Quality issues with my Blue Apron meals were the first red flag.
The produce often arrived wilted, and I felt as if I had to either use it immediately or throw it away. This was particularly an issue with ingredients like arugula and cilantro but also happened with squash, which generally keeps for much longer.
The meals also started piling up. The idea of spending an hour chopping and roasting broccoli after getting home from barre class at 8 p.m. seemed daunting.
I started turning down invitations to happy hours and dinners because "I have another Blue Apron to cook from this week." Another coworker complained to me that his freezer was full of meals he hadn't had time to cook. Dread replaced excitement when I saw my Blue Apron box.
My parents became disenchanted at the same time.
"Sometimes it's exhausting to think about prepping all those ingredients when we could make something simple," my mom told me.
We both discontinued our Blue Apron subscriptions in August — for me that was barely three months after I signed up.
The future of Blue Apron
Amazon's meal kits are competition for Blue Apron. Amazon
Back in June, when Blue Apron's shares had just started trading on the New York Stock Exchange, my colleague Alex Morrell wrote about a marketing professor at Emory University who estimated that the company was losing money on roughly 70% of its new customers because they stopped their subscriptions before the company could recoup its costs to acquire them.The professor's analysis estimated that almost two-thirds of customers were like me — and gone after just three months.The company is facing more problems than quality and time complaints from customers. Competition is piling up, with everyone from Kroger to Amazon getting into the meal-kit business and the big competitors have some notable advantages — their kits are sold á la carte instead of the commitment of a three-meal-a-week subscription. Amazon and Kroger also chop vegetables and include premade sauces, cutting prep time down substantially.
The company has responded by simplifying some recipes. But it seemingly can't compete with big retailers who most likely have sweet deals with suppliers that allow them to sell the goods for less.
Blue Apron's gourmet meals are a nice indulgence from time to time.
But it's nearly impossible to imagine the company getting enough loyal customers to sustain growth.
Video: How Blue Apron Lost Billion in Value! - A Case Study for Entrepreneurs
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