business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports that “a number of Web-based subscription services are now offering their own version of quick and easy meal planning by providing a week's worth of recipes, replete with a shopping list. Their target market? Time starved parents who want to put a satisfying and nutritional dinner on the table, without using the same few tried-and-true meals every week.”

The Journal tested five such services and found that “most of their recipes keep your time in the kitchen relatively fuss-free by using canned or prepared ingredients or emphasizing one-dish meals. But even when the recipes make claims of speediness, they don't realistically account for the fact that much of the prep work -- chopping onions, peeling garlic -- takes time. (This is the same criticism that's often leveled at Rachael Ray.)

“The services deliver their recipes via email and/or post them to their site. Some give subscribers lots of customization options and go beyond dinner to include brunch, dessert and side-dish recipes; others stick to a week's worth of straightforward suppers. And some also maintain an archive of past recipes. What really distinguishes the services is their varied approach to food, from a more contemporary, world-cuisine aesthetic to an almost retro casserole-oriented style.”
KC's View:
Would I be presumptuous to suggest that at least part of the reason these services exist is because their owners saw a gap in the marketplace?

In some ways, that’s hard to believe, considering everything that is available online, in magazines and in cookbooks. But clearly, there is some need that food retailers and manufacturers are not satisfying, despite al their efforts. That’s something to consider, if you’re in the business of selling food. It is something worth focusing on, because these are the kinds of opportunities that can help a business redefine itself.