the logistics of subscription meal kits 

American consumers’ increasing appetite for “on demand” services causes retailers to rethink the shopping experience for everything from entertainment to clothing to food. The market power of a new generation of shoppers spending money on essentials with a preference for convenience has shifted the paradigm to more reliance on delivery of items. To these consumers, sometimes paying a premium is preferable to spending the valuable commodity of time.

This is especially evident in the meteoric rise of subscription meal kit services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh that ship all of the portioned ingredients of a meal to prepare at home. The model quickly became an attractive option for consumers who would rather stay in and prepare a meal without having to go out to shop for ingredients, go to out eat, or even have a ready to eat meal delivered.

Recent years have seen subscription meal kits boom from a handful of providers to more than 100 different subscriptions catering not just to taste but also availability of healthy food options. This newly data-driven model has created a shifting landscape to adjust to the whims of those who are buying, but it also must rely on the practicalities of preparing, preserving, and shipping perishable food.

Much of the challenge for these companies is how to be fast while also managing the expense of the logistics involved in order to be sustainable and, hopefully, profitable. Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and their competitors rely on third party delivery of fresh rather than frozen ingredients. The idea is for busy professionals to be able to come home from work, find a box containing food and a recipe, and be able to cook immediately. Freshness means not only using gel packs and containers that keep food cool and prevent spoiling but also a need for relative proximity to a supply source.

That, in turn, can limit the range and scope of a service. Some have found they are more viable in an urban environment with a high population density in order to maintain freshness of food the cost effectiveness of shipping.

Tracing the chain back to the supply sources, subscription services that can change based on consumer purchases and feedback can mean the need for quick adjustments to an already hectic facility prepping and packing food for shipping. Combine all that with maintaining the standards of federal and state regulations and logistics such as warehouse management become even more important to success.

And the subscription meal kit industry has certainly seen its share of ups and downs in a short time with some providers folding as investors’ interest in a business model with its variables waned. Others experienced concerns from consumers about packing materials, complaints from facility employees about working conditions, and scheduling headaches with shipping companies to meet demand.

Those services that have weathered the storm have quickly learned that filling stomachs in a digital word means keeping logistics at the heart of their business.

NOTS Logistics offers solutions for the multiple levels of the supply chain from warehousing, transportation management, customized distribution, and workforce management. How can we help your business? Find out today!

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