New York Post


Amazon meal-kit plans have Apron investors ...

- By LISA FICKENSCHE­R lfickensch­

Amazon on Monday was offering same-day delivery of Pepto-Bismol — just in case any Blue Apron shareholde­rs were feeling a bit, you know, queasy.

After all, shares of the mealkit delivery company tumbled 10.5 percent, to $6.59, after several reports had Jeff Bezos’ e-commerce company hinting strongly that it was about to jump into the mealkit game.

Amazon, according to reports, filed to trademark the “meal kit” phrase — as well as several slogans, including, “We do the prep. You be the chef.”

Blue Apron shares are down 34 percent from their early July initial public offering price of $10.

Last month, the ambitious culinary startup had to slash its IPO price by a third after Amazon and Whole Foods announced their merger.

In some ways, Blue Apron shareholde­rs have nobody to blame for their agita but themselves — as Amazon’s meal plans were served up in a very public way months before the IPO.

Yes, the Seattle retailer has had the $5 billion meal kit sector on its mind for months.

On March 6, Amazon filed to trademark the snappy phrase, “Dinner for 2 in about 30 minutes” — followed weeks later, on April 17, with, “We prep. You cook.”

In fact, just last week Amazon filed a trademark applicatio­n for what appears to be a private-label food brand — called Happy Belly — that covers hundreds of food items from meat, produce, fruits, milk shakes, broth, caviar and pasta to pet food and alcoholic beverages.

Another filing last week, for a “single cow burger,” refers to Amazon’s plans to offer “refrigerat­ed prepared entrees and frozen entrees consisting primarily of meat, fish, poultry and/or vegetables.”

All of this spells bad news for Blue Apron and the other meal-kit delivery services, including Martha Stewart’s Martha & Marley Spoon, HelloFresh, Plated and Chef’d, which have captured about 5 percent of all US households, according to NPD Group.

Peapod, the delivery service owned by Stop & Shop and Giant Foods, said its 2year-old meal-kit service grew 250 percent over the past 52 weeks, in part because its $5-and-under meals are cheaper than its rivals’ — costing $10 to $20 per meal.

The highway of spoiled food delivery services is already jamming up. In May, the 2-year-old venturebac­ked meal delivery service Maple folded, while SpoonRocke­t went out of business in March 2016.

“We are seeing downward pressure on Blue Apron because it’s competing in a sector of the food industry that’s unproven in terms of profitabil­ity,” said Dan Glickberg, with food consultanc­y Rodeo CPG.

While Blue Apron doubled its revenue last year, it posted a net loss of $54.9 million because it beefed up its logistics and marketing.

“Amazon would be looking to get into delivery trucks that are already full, while Blue Apron is looking to fill up trucks.” Glickberg said.

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