Blue Apron Prices IPO As Meal Delivery Market Heats Up

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Blue Apron

Blue Apron believes mainstream investors want a piece of the red-hot at-home meal-delivery business, just as it believes mainstream consumers will become part of its customer base.

So the brand is pushing ahead with an IPO that would price its shares at between $15 and $17, generating $586 million and valuing the five-year-old startup at about $3 billion.

By providing home delivery of meal kits with precisely measured ingredients and recipes for completing preparation at home, Blue Apron has become one of the major competitors in an increasingly popular area of digital subscriptions.

Significant rivals include Plated in the US, HelloFresh in Europe and Chefs Plate in Canada. Another competitor, Sun Basket, which focuses on organic ingredients, has hired banks for an IPO that could come later this year, Reuters reported.

Like many online-based disruptors, these companies are in a business that, while fast-growing, hasn’t been profitable for many so far, as they test their business models, build customer bases and try to figure out how to make meal delivery an everyday choice for more consumers.

Blue Apron is among the many forces putting stress on traditional supermarkets and important other food purveyors such as Walmart and Target. In response, some of those grocers, such as Kroger, are launching their own meal-kit services. And major CPG brands are also sniffing around the space; Campbell Soup, for example, just invested in Chef’d.

Now a company that is putting pressure on traditional food retailers from another direction, Amazon, will also begin putting pressure on meal-kit deliverers such as Blue Plate.

With its just-announced purchase of Whole Foods Markets, Amazon will gain a huge foothold in bricks-and-mortar food distribution and could use Whole Foods stores as preparation and delivery platforms in communities around the more than 450 stores the chain operates across the US.

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