If you haven’t enjoyed the convenience or the fun of a meal kit, you probably know someone who has, or you’ve seen them advertised online.
The industry has flourished over the past few years; so much that it’s expected to be worth $11.6 billion by 2022 in the United States alone – and it’s certainly not confined to the US.
With numbers like these, you can see that ‘flourished’ was no exaggeration. People love them, whether it’s because kits make it easier to cook a good meal after a long, busy day, they are a fun way to cook something new, they can make fabulous gift experiences, or for other reasons.
We’ve put together the biggest meal kit industry statistics to learn about who’s purchasing them, the industry’s impressive growth, and much more. Let’s dive into this modern foodie craze.
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What is a Meal Kit?
Just so we’re all clear about this, kits contain pre-measured and, in many cases pre-prepped, ingredients as well as the recipe for preparing that specific dish.
Meal kit delivery businesses often are run as subscription services, with options such as receiving one or more kits, each of which contains a specified number of portions, one or more times per week or month.
Advantages of meal kits include:
- You get dinners that are diverse, interesting and tasty
- There’s less chance of wasting leftover ingredients
- Hard-to-find ingredients aren’t so hard to find
- Kits make healthy eating easier
- Kits cut down on shopping trips
- The convenience of kits is changing what meals look like for people with busy lives
With that to whet our appetites, let’s take a closer look at some industry stats.
Who’s Buying Meal Kits?
According to the Fine Foods Guild, purchase intelligence platform Cardlytics reported spending on meal kits and grocery boxes in the UK increased by 114% in April 2020 compared with 2019. Lockdown played a role in that growth, as consumers hoped to recreate restaurant recipes at home.
Businesses such as Gousto, Hello Fresh, and Mindful Chef became the sensible option for millions of consumers in the UK. Of the 22 million UK bank accounts analysed by Cardlytics, 11 million purchased recipe boxes.
Looking across the Atlantic to the US, we find that 17% of Americans have subscribed to a meal kit delivery service. Of them, 90% referred others to the service to which they had subscribed. A Money-Blue Consult survey revealed that 26% of Generation X and 29% of millennial respondents had used a service. Of the Baby boomers and older generations surveyed, only 12% had tried kits.
The Money survey also found that 25% of those who tried kits lived in cities, while 14% said they lived in rural areas. Of the respondents, 23% of those who tried kits identified as male, and 15% identified as female. The top subscribers all earned more than $100,000.
In 2017, USA Today reported that a 2016 Harris poll found 81% of the Americans who responded believed that kits are healthier than food prepared in restaurants. This statistic might be a few years old, but, as we’ll see below, health is still a factor that consumers consider when choosing a recipe box.
Multi-Billion Dollar Industry Insights
The Grand View Research Meal Kit Delivery Services Market Share Report 2021 – 2028 valued the global market at $10.26 billion in 2020. The report predicts the market will see a 13% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2021 to 2028.
Some reasons given by the report for the kits’ appeal include:
- Millennials prefer homemade meals to dining out
- The benefits of kits offer value for money
- Lockdown-related restaurant shutdowns worked in the kit industry’s favour
- The pandemic made more people health-conscious, resulting in greater interest in healthy, balanced diets
According to the report, single service kits accounted for over 55% of the market in 2020, something which it attributed to the kits’ popularity with unmarried men. However, the report predicted that multiple service kits would be the ones to see the fastest CAGR, an expected 13.4%, from 2021 to 2028.
One reason given for this was that families are becoming increasingly busier and more stressed. More families are turning to meal kits to reduce the time spent preparing a good meal. Another reason was that millennial foodies want a timesaving alternative to conventional cooking and eating out.
Cook-And-Eat vs Heat-And-Eat
In 2020, cook-and-eat kits accounted for 60% of kit purchases, and they’re predicted to stay in the lead at least until 2028.
Cook-and-eat kits include boxes of fresh ingredients delivered to your door. While they still involve prep and cooking, these kits eliminate the need to meal plan, shop for groceries, or even measure out ingredients.
Heat-and-eat kits are similar to frozen dinners, but the chef-prepared meals are fresh and the ingredients are healthy. Consumers can choose their ingredients for the meal or select from the already available recipes on the website.
Grand View Research attributed this popularity of cook-and-eat kits to younger generations’ lifestyles. Their enjoyment of gourmet-style cooking at home, appreciation of new experiences, and desire to share food with friends and family make cook-and-eat kits their preferred choice.
Even though cook-and-eat kits are expected to remain the most popular option, heat-and-eat kits are predicted to experience the fastest growth rate of 13.4% from 2021 to 2028. The report listed the key factors driving the industry as affluence, a growing number of millennial customers, and an increasing number of working women.
Meal Kit Industry Trends
Unsurprisingly, several trends have arisen within the meal kit industry. Among those listed by Linchpin were:
Kits make it easier for people who want to eat organic-only to find ingredients they wouldn’t necessarily find in a supermarket or greengrocer.
Greater Catering to Different Lifestyles
There is a growing number of recipe boxes that are dedicated to specific lifestyle choices. For example, kits can make it easier to maintain a vegan lifestyle because they offer greater variety than the local supermarket and individuals’ time constraints allow.
Some meal kit delivery services focus on catering for specific diets. For example, you can find kits for keto, paleo, and other diets.
A Foodie Trend That’s Here To Stay
The meal kit industry undoubtedly is getting bigger and better. The scope for exciting and creative ideas is huge, and ‘eating out the box’ has never been tastier.