The move is part of a larger effort to expand into new channels, including third-party sales platforms, the meal-kit retailer says.

In a bid to reach new customers, meal-kit company Blue Apron Inc. is now selling meal kits and prepared meals via the Walmart.com marketplace.

The move to Walmart.com is part of a larger effort to expand into new channels, including “third-party sales platforms that bring significant new audiences to Blue Apron,” the retailer said in a statement. Blue Apron says it expects to announce more offerings of this kind in 2022 but was not specific about potential distribution partners. Blue Apron ranks No. 178 in the 2022 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000. Walmart Inc. ranks No. 2.

Blue Apron will pack and ship the meal-kit boxes ordered via Walmart.com. The meal-kit company says handling fulfillment itself will maintain “the efficiency and scale of the company’s direct-to-consumer model and strong supply chain.”

On its own website, the retailer sells meal kits using a subscription model. Consumers select how many servings they want every week and can make specific requests, including asking for kid-friendly options or meals intended to assist weight loss. But, on Walmart.com, consumers can buy the kits without a subscription.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron says it is the first — and so far, only — meal kit company selling on Walmart.com.

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Reaching new customers

“Our partnership with Walmart.com gives us the chance to reach new consumers that are currently using Walmart.com, as well as introduce an entirely new audience of customers that may not have considered purchasing a meal kit before or were hesitant to try Blue Apron because of its subscription model,” a Blue Apron spokesperson tells Digital Commerce 360.

Blue Apron offers Walmart.com shoppers four options that serve up to 12 people, with plans to expand the options in the coming months. The spokesperson says the meals available from Walmart.com are a curated selection of recipes also available on BlueApron.com. In addition to meal kits, the offerings will include a selection of Blue Apron’s Heat & Eat line of prepared, single-serving meals that consumers can heat up in five minutes or less.

Blue Apron is one of just three meal-kit companies in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000. The other two are Sun Basket (No. 174) and Goodfood Market Corp. (No. 265).

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Moving beyond subscriptions

Company officials have said Blue Apron wants to “build an ecosystem” of partners to help it expand beyond its subscription model. During a May 9 earnings conference call, CEO Linda Findley said Blue Apron was “implementing additional technology to allow us to simplify integration with a larger number of partners at scale.”

Blue Apron says it is the first — and so far, only — meal kit company selling on Walmart.com. The spokesperson said the retailer has no plans to sell its meal kits or prepared meals in Walmart stores but doesn’t rule it out.

“While we currently do not have plans to expand the offering beyond online sales, we can say that this is just the beginning, and we look forward to iterating on and expanding our offerings throughout the year,” the spokesperson says.

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Blue Apron’s search for new customers makes sense. According to a May survey of 1,000 online shoppers by Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights, just 13% of those surveyed ordered meal kits for delivery during the preceding six months.

In addition to seeking distribution partners, Blue Apron also recently freshened its menu. Last month the retailer expanded its food and wine offerings, adding new four-serving recipes, premium sparkling wines and increasing the number of “add-on” items available. Add-ons, which the retailer introduced last year, include breakfasts, appetizers, salads, desserts and à-la-carte proteins. Blue Apron now has 58 weekly food options, more than tripling the variety of choices on its menu since 2019.

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Blue Apron financial results

For its first quarter, ended March 31, Blue Apron reported that net revenue decreased approximately 9% year-over-year to $117.8 million. That’s down from $129.7 million a year earlier. Its net loss more than doubled, reaching $38.4 million, compared with a loss of $15.7 million a year earlier.

For the full year, the retailer says it expects top-line net revenue growth to be in the mid-teens percentage range compared with the full-year 2021 revenue. The retailer says it will get there by returning to positive year-over-year net revenue growth starting in the second quarter of 2022 and for the rest of 2022.

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