Recipe kit box

Chop chop: Why do we love meal kit subscriptions so much?

According to new research from Barclaycard, deliver-to-door meal subscriptions kits are more popular than ever before. With artisan pasta, diet-specific recipes, organic fruit and veg boxes and perfectly pre-portioned ingredients, meal subscriptions take a lot of the hassle out of everyday cooking, allowing everyone to whip up haute cuisine at a moment’s notice.

During lockdown, meal kit subscriptions made sense on both sides of the front door; with delivery slots few and far between, consumers didn’t have to hit the shops - and businesses were able to find new ways to reach customers. But their popularity is continuing to rise - despite the easing of restrictions. Why?

Here we share some key points from the new Barclaycard research which reveal why both businesses and their customers find meal kit subscriptions so irresistibly delicious.

Why do customers love meal kits?

Our latest research has found that almost a fifth of customers (18 per cent) now subscribe to at least one meal subscription, with more than a quarter (27 per cent) say they now rely on them for at least half their meals. This trend shows no sign of slowing down; according to the research, 40 per cent of UK customers plan to increase their reliance on meal subscription services going forward because:

They broaden our horizons

Suppliers often suggest meals we would never have dreamed of cooking and help us find new dishes to add to our regular rotation - from Korean Yang-Nyum fried chicken and kimchi, to cream tea and meat-free burgers!

They are next-level convenient

Have you ever been seized by supermarket paralysis? Unless you’re a pro, it can be easy to wander aimlessly around a supermarket, unsure of what you might want to eat over the next week - let alone what ingredients you need to buy. Many meal subscription boxes come with handy apps and email reminders, so you can choose the meals that speak to your soul and plan far in advance. Your meals arrive on the doorstep as if by magic - no time wasted, no parking drama, no search for bags and no racing against the cashier as you rush to pack said bags.

They limit waste

Even when we have the best intentions, sometimes a little food waste is inevitable. Perhaps you didn’t need a whole bag of carrots to make that stew, or a whole pint of double cream for that sauce. Pre-portioned ingredients mean less food waste, more space in the fridge and less packaging in the bin.

They make cooking more enjoyable

Because your ingredients are all neatly packaged up and ready to go, with easy-to-follow recipe cards and instructions, you can let loose and cook for the simple joy of it, picking up new skills along the way. Some boxes even come with dedicated playlists.

They give us more time with our loved ones

Whether that means having fun experimenting with a new cuisine together, or time gained back by ditching the weekly shop.

Why do businesses love them?

Our research has found that almost half (44 per cent) of grocery, food and drink businesses already provide a subscription service - and another quarter (25 per cent) are in the process of developing one. Given the latest figures, this is hardly surprising:

Demand is high
With lockdown restrictions eased, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the demand for subscription products would be easing off - but this is simply not the case. Eight in ten (82 per cent) of subscription services say their customer acquisition has continued to rise despite the easing of restrictions – and predict that the digital and direct-to-door subscription sector will remain popular. As a result, the sector is expected to grow by another 35 per cent on average over the next year, and two thirds (67 per cent) of retail businesses plan to launch more subscription services in the near future.

Subscriptions are helping businesses stay competitive
Bold, disruptive and convenient, our research found that 72 per cent of brands see subscription services as a way to keep up with the competition.

They provide a relatively reliable stream of revenue
Merchants feel that offering subscription services provides a more reliable and predictable source of revenue (72 per cent), with the same customers returning week after week.

They help build better relationships with customers
Three quarters (75 per cent) also felt subscriptions helped them build better customer relationships through more regular contact - also helping cut down marketing budgets.

Combined, these factors have some considerable implications for the future of the hospitality industry. Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of all those surveyed predict subscription services will lead to brands permanently changing their supply chain for more flexibility. This includes building more ‘ghost kitchens’ in the food industry - there to create products for delivery services only. Having introduced more of us to different ways of shopping for and preparing our meals, it seems some lockdown shopping habits are here to stay - we look forward to seeing what treats this sector will rustle up next.