Today Blue Apron announced it would begin selling Beyond Meat products in its meal kits next month. According to CNBC, this news caused the struggling meal kit company’s stock to rise 33 percent during morning trading.
Blue Apron x Beyond Meat kits will be available starting this August. The kits will feature Beyond’s new “meatier” burger patties. The recipes are basically tricked-up beyond burgers (Caramelized Onion & Cheddar, Jalapeno & Goat Cheese, etc) with a vegetable side.
The choice to add Beyond Meat to their meal kits seems to be Blue Apron’s attempt to appeal to a flexitarian audience. It’s also a way to capitalize on the booming alternative protein market: data released today by the Good Food Institute shows that sales of plant-based foods rose 11 percent in last year alone and that the plant-based meat category is worth $801 million.
But this is also an attempt by Blue Apron to draft off of some of Beyond Meat’s viral success, especially after the plant-based meat company’s news-grabbing IPO boom earlier this year. It’s no secret that Blue Apron has been on a downward spiral lately, struggling to grow and keep a subscriber base. Last month the company had to split its stock to keep it above $1 in order to avoid being delisted on the New York Stock Exchange. It makes sense that they would want to hitch their horse to Beyond, which has had the biggest IPO pop since the 2008 financial crisis — and whose shares are still soaring at a whopping $172 bucks per share (at the time of this writing).
Lately it seems like Blue Apron has been trying everything to stay afloat. It recently partnered with WW (formerly Weight Watchers) and has also tried to follow other meal kit companies into retail with a Costco partnership, which stopped abruptly at the end of last year. They currently have a Jet.com partnership for next-day meal kit delivery (though it’s only in NYC for now).
On Beyond’s part, the Blue Apron partnership seems like a low-risk way to get into more households. This is the plant-based meat company’s second meal delivery partnership. The first is with Trifecta, the pre-made meal delivery service geared towards health-conscious consumers. Seeing as Beyond is trying to do everything and anything it can to grow revenues in the wake of going public, and other meal kits likely want in on this meatless action, I’m guessing we’ll see them entering into more meal kit partnerships coming down the road.
Long-term, the deal might not work out as well for Blue Apron. Despite today’s stock surge, I doubt all the trendy partnerships in the world will save the struggling meal kit company. As my colleague Jenn Marston wrote, if Blue Apron wants to dig itself out from its hole, it needs to make some fundamental shifts to address its core problem: customer acquisition and retention. Adding trendy plant-based meats is one way to draw attention to the service and pick up a few more flexitarian customers, but it won’t solve any underlying issues.