Amazon is poised to enter the $2.2-billion market for meal kits.
The Seattle-based Internet giant is trying to trademark the slogan, “We do the prep. You be the chef,” according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
In the July 6 filing, Amazon says its tag line is for “prepared food kits,” composed of meat, poultry, seafood, produce, sauce and seasonings” as well as “frozen, prepared, and packaged meals,” which also includes salads, soups, grains, rice, noodles, pasta and bakery products.
The news jolted the meal-kit market, sending shares of a major player, Blue Apron, down over 10% at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Amazon has already made a huge play in the food industry with its June 16 offer to buy organic foods giant Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion.
The company could not be reached for comment.
Blue Apron, the best-known name in meal kits, went public on June 29 with an opening price of $10 per share, down from the $15 to $17 per share it had initially sought. And in light of the Amazon news. Blue Apron stock was at $6.60, down 76 cents in midday trading.
This type of food prep — pre-measured, fresh ingredients delivered to homes — will see annual growth of 25% to 30% over the next half-decade, says Chicago-based food industry consulting firm Pentallect.
Despite their growing popularity, only an estimated 5% of U.S. households use meal kits, according the research firm NPD Group.
Part of the problem has been the price, but with Amazon coming on the scene, that could change. The online retailer is known for offering low prices. Once the Whole Foods deal goes through, it’ll have a strong grocery backbone to plant a stake. Throw in a well-established logistics and delivery systems and Amazon is poised to be a real meal-kits player.
“It makes perfect sense that as online grocery shopping grows it will drive the adoption of meal kits,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst at The NPD Group. “Online grocery shoppers can save time by not having to search through multiple Web sites and they both work hand-in-hand in meeting the consumer’s need for convenience with the delivery of a fresh meal they can prepare at home.”
Whole Foods spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan declined to comment.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Zlati Meyer on Twitter: @ZlatiMeyer
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