Albertsons announced a deal today that will have Instacart providing same day grocery delivery for more than 1,800 of its stores by the middle of next year.
Upon news of the deal breaking, many were quick to call this a defensive move to better compete with Amazon/Whole Foods. Tactically speaking, yes, that was certainly a motivating factor. But there is a far more fundamental change happening to our relationship with food — and delivery plays a big part in it.
Food is almost becoming a utility. And while it’s not quite like turning on a spigot, Amazon and Instacart already offer same day delivery of the food you want (in major metropolitan areas). It’s only a matter of time as they refine and optimize their logistics to winnow that delivery window down to the smallest time unit possible between ordering online and a knock at your door.
Suddenly, the meals we want to make at home are not constrained by the food we already have and/or the time we have to go to the grocery store. If we are struck by inspiration, we can order the ingredients we want and have them waiting on our doorstep (or in our home or refigerators).
Back at our Smart Kitchen Summit, celebrity chef Tyler Florence declared the “recipe is dead.” Instead of starting with a list of ingredients you need to get in order to make something, Florence believes in starting with what you already have and then algorithmically generating a recipe from that.
But that line of thinking presupposes that you only have access to the ingredients in your pantry. With same day grocery delivery, you are no longer shackled by that presupposition. Make the recipe you want! If you don’t have the ingredients right now, you can get them in plenty of time without having to leave the house or work.
We already see this happening with shoppable recipe lists, like the one recently announced by AllRecipes. See a recipe you like? Click the button and all the ingredients will be sent to you. As The Spoon founder Mike Wolf put it, the combination of same day delivery and shoppable recipes basically means customizable meal kits on demand.
The increased availability of ingredients will open up more recipe options, and smarter kitchen devices will help people cook better, while online communities encourage and inspire. This will open up new avenues of creativity and push people to make new meals they’ve never considered before.
Same day delivery has the power to spark an evolutionary change our entire relationship with food. Just as we want our music, movies and news on demand — so too will we want our meals.
Albertsons isn’t the only one thinking about this. Instacart has now signed up top five U.S. grocers including agreements with Kroger, Costco and even an exclusive arrangement with Whole Foods (until 2021).