business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post reports on how meal kit service Blue Apron is using obscure produce items such as fairy tale eggplant, Shokichi Shiro squash, Atlas carrots and at least 40 other specialty crops as a way of differentiating itself. Indeed, the story says that "Blue Apron has built a team of regionally dispersed experts" across the country and is incentivizing them "to grow crops Blue Apron wants to use."

"Blue Apron's vegetable binge is helping the young company build a fast, almost-cult following among people who want to prepare original home-cooked meals without the fuss of dealing with a shopping list," the Post writes. "And it is hardly alone. Investors have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into a wave of ambitious start-ups with names like Plated and Sun Basket that are aiming to take a piece of a grocery industry that has proven difficult to disrupt."

The story goes on: "Earlier upstarts tried to win over shoppers by delivering food to their doorsteps and saving them a trip to the grocery store. The dinner-in-a-box companies, though, are betting that they can bypass the supermarket altogether by adding the convenience of curating recipes and portions so that all families have to do is chop and stir and fire up the stove.

"It's still too soon to know whether they will ultimately become a threat to traditional grocers. But Blue Apron thinks the secret might be changing the logistics of how fresh food moves to the pantry, fundamentally rethinking the food supply chain by starting all the way back at the farm."
KC's View:
This is working around the edges, but that's what companies like Blue Apron have to do. Takes more work and requires more marketing ... but the upside could be considerable.