Gobble announced a partnership today to sell its meal kits through Walmart’s e-commerce site (via Fortune). The move will get Gobble’s meal kits in front of Walmart’s vast online audience. However, it looks like it won’t put them physically in stores, which has been the trajectory for most remaining meal kit companies.
Gobble‘s hook in the crowded meal kit delivery space is that its meals only take 15 minutes — and one pan — to prepare. The company par cooks sauces, grains and pasta, and pre-slices vegetables and meat, to take some of the work out of meal preparation and shorten the cook time.
As we’ve seen, the logistics of providing fresh food for delivery by mail are complicated and expensive. Just last month, meal kit company Chef’d abruptly shut down because of exactly this issue. Its assets were acquired and going forward the company will foresake mail order to focus on retail opportunities.
Just about every meal kit company is jumping into the grocery aisle pool. Blue Apron is selling kits in Costcos, HelloFresh kits will be sold in Giant Food and Stop & Shop locations. Not to mention grocers like Kroger and Albertsons, who doubled down on meal kits and acquired Home Chef and Plated respectively. Even smaller supermarket chains like New Seasons are launching their own meal kits.
Founded in 2010, Gobble has raised nearly $30 million in venture funding, and Fortune estimated that the company brought in between $25 and $50 million in revenue last year, but has still not made money. An interesting footnote to this Gobble/Walmart deal is that Gobble’s VP of Supply Chain and Operations used to be the VP of Supply Chain at Walmart.
While this is undoubtedly a good step in the right direction for Gobble, it seems like just that — a step. Part of the issue we’ve had with mail order meal kits here at The Spoon is their inflexibility. Parmesean chicken and brown sugar salmon may sound good at the time I click to purchase them online, but by the time the meal kits arrive, my palate may have moved on — and I’m stuck with a box of food that I have to make before it goes bad.
Convenience makes meal kits in the retail aisles a much better play. The ability to select and grab a meal kit for that evening while you’re already out running errands (or even from the office fridge on your way home) better aligns your preferences and your actual meal.
You also have to wonder how this fits in with Walmart’s overall meal kit plans. As of June this year, Business Insider reported that the retailer was selling individual and small meal kits from Home Chef, Sun Basket and Takeout kit online — but those specific Walmart links in the story no longer work.
Perhaps more importantly, Walmart is working on its own meal kits, which will be available in more than 2,000 of its stores this year. On the surface, it seems like Walmart is leaving the logistical hard parts of meal kits to someone else (read: Gobble), and keeping the retail aisles for itself.
Now we just have to wait and see if Walmart shoppers want to gobble up Gobble’s meal kits.