Meal kits were growing in popularity before the pandemic, and sales boomed during the first year of COVID-19 with restaurants shut and diners adjusting to a different life of consumption. But it appears some Canadians have since lost their appetite for the services.
A recent survey conducted by the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in partnership with Caddle found that one-third of the Canadians who were subscribed to a meal kit service in November 2020, eight months into the pandemic, have since abandoned those subscriptions.
8.4 per cent of Canadians currently subscribe to a meal-kit service provider, down from 12.8 per cent in November 2020. Overall, the research found that 22.5 per cent of Canadians say they have stopped using a meal kit service.
Only three per cent of Canadians are now fully committed to a meal kit provider and expect to continue to use the service. Another 9.8 per cent believe they may use meal kits in the future but are unsure, while 69 per cent of Canadians have still never subscribed to any meal kit service.
Why are consumers losing interest?
The study found that price and packaging are the main factors in Canadians abandoning meal kits.
The average price of a meal-kit service is typically $8 to $13 per meal, per person, says the report. Nearly four in five consumers (78 per cent) who have dropped such a service felt the prices were too high, and more than two-thirds (67.5 per cent) dropped the service because of heavy packaging, which is increasingly frowned upon by many people due to its adverse effects on the environment.
Janet Music, research associate at the Agri-Food Analytics Lab, suggested she was not too surprised by the findings as a lot of people “got reacquainted with their kitchen” and home cooking over the last two years of the pandemic.
“As we continue to be under inflationary increases in food, I just don’t think people have the money to dedicate to [meal kit delivery services],” she added. “They’re going to try to claw back that value-add meal kits provide. What they’re selling is convenience and inspiration, and that’s expensive. People are looking to cut down on their grocery bills, so they’re going to do [meal prep] themselves.”
Still some demand
However, while the meal kit industry has waned a little over the last 18 months, it is far from dead.
However, some consumers still see big perks in using meal kits, led by the convenience factor (57.7 per cent). This was followed by the desire to save time (30.4 per cent), and avoid planning meals (15.4 per cent). Younger Canadians are more likely to use meal kits, with Gen Z the biggest users of meal kits at a 14.5 per cent rate of usage), followed by millennials (12.1 per cent), Generation X (7.9 per cent), and baby boomers (3.2 per cent).
In addition, the Agri-Food Analytics Lab estimates the meal-kit market in Canada is worth about $1.1 billion today, down from a peak of over $1.5 billion in 2020.
HelloFresh remains the most popular service (32 per cent), followed by Good Food (24.6 per cent) and HelloFresh-owned Chef’s Plate at 14.9 per cent.