Pre-portioned meals that require minimal cooking.
Will Walmart or Amazon Start a Meal Kit Service in Canada?
If you’ve seen the television sports or podcast advertisements for companies like HelloFresh and Goodfood, then you might have wondered if heavy hitters like Walmart or Amazon were going to start a meal kit delivery service in Canada.
The short answer is: Maybe
Walmart and Amazon have started selling meal kits in the USA. However, it’s important to note that the term “meal kits” can mean different things to different people. For us here in Canada, HelloFresh, Chefs Plate, and Goodfood have essentially defined the meal kit market as:
- Subscribe and enjoy a weekly box mailed to your home
- Open the box and put the individual meal bags in your fridge
- 10-50 minutes before supper, open your meal kit
- Chop/stir/bake/grill your delicious supper
- Enjoy it by yourself or with your loved ones
What Does Walmart’s Meal Kit Service Look Like?
So far, Walmart meal kits have only popped up in the USA. Within their model, it can get a bit confusing as Walmart has partnered with an existing food subscription box service, Blue Apron (not available in Canada) in addition to its own meal kits. When you go on the Walmart website, you can buy Blue Apron Heat & Eat meals, meal kits for specific meals, or Blue Apron cookbooks. You can also order other products from Walmart and there’s a 30-day trial for free shipping on any order, with no minimum spend. After the trial, you will pay $12.95 per month for shipping.
Walmart announced that they were going to be testing their meal kit produce in more than 2,000 locations. The idea is that you can simply walk into the store and go to the deli section, or order online and pick it up later that day. Their announcement stated that the global retailer would be focusing on three main niches within the meal kit world:
A Walmart spokesperson went on the record as saying that, “We continue to expand our meals to go offering and customers can expect to enjoy some new menu options in the coming months.”
By looking at a wide variety of first-person accounts online, it appears that these options all fall under the “ready-made” option and are basically varieties of the “take-home meal” that has been popping up in major grocers for several years now.
Walmart meal kits are generally slightly cheaper than their meal kit competition in the USA. We’re actually surprised that they aren’t able to price their meals even lower given the scale that they operate on. Each meal kit is designed for two or four people.
Overall, we don’t think Walmart Canada’s meal kits are anything special and are a long way from being a direct comparison to Hello Fresh and Chefs Plate. The main reason is there just isn’t as much variety and no weekly subscription available. It looks like they’re slightly expanding their rotisserie chicken-style meals, and using the term “meal kit” to drive new customers. A massive part of the reason we love meal kits is the convenience of having them delivered to the house weekly and knowing that if we forget to pick meals, we’ll still have something arrive! Also, the wide variety of menus are vastly superior to what Walmart USA is putting on its shelves (hence their carrying a comparable company like Blue Apron), so we would say it will be many years – if ever – before Walmart catches up to the rest of Canada’s meal kits. After all, the meal kit market is already very competitive.
If we were HelloFresh or Goodfood, we’d be much more worried about…
Amazon Meal Kits – The Real Competition
If we were in charge of one of Canada’s meal kit delivery companies, we’d be most scared of a company that was the world leader in shipping logistics (getting stuff to your house FAST) and was quickly gaining experience in the world of groceries.
Meet Amazon — the next big thing in… everything.
While Amazon Canada does NOT currently stock or ship meal kits, it will likely launch some sort of grocery/meal kit hybrid at some point in the Great White North. It already offers packaged meals and side dishes, although these aren’t fresh like meal kit ingredients — typically this category includes boxed pasta and sauce, rice dishes, mashed potatoes, and dry soup mixes. Canadian consumers are savvy when it comes to food and most appreciate how beneficial fresh food is over packaged food for their health. For that reason, Amazon will have to start selling fresh meal kits to truly compete in this market.
In the US, the online retailer has purchased Whole Foods and has used that brand to launch their foray into meal kits. At first, they tested their service in three states and recently announced that they planned to expand their meal kit offerings to more than a dozen states. Clearly, Amazon sees the potential that meal kits have in today’s time-strapped households that are willing to pay for convenience. You can pick up Amazon meal kits in Whole Foods stores and they can be delivered to you if you live in the area where AmazonFresh is available. But again, only in the USA.
The reason that Amazon is such a scary competitor for Canada’s meal kits is that they have so much information on us as purchasers AND they have such a dominant role as THE company that delivers stuff to our homes. IF Amazon decides to enter the meal kit market wholeheartedly, they will be major competitors not only to the small local companies but also to the industry leaders.
We will keep this article updated if any new announcements are made, but it appears for the time being that Amazon meal kits and Walmart meal kits are at least a year or two away from coming to Canada, if that’s what they decide to do. In the meantime, you can already find some cheap meal kit services in Canada. Costs vary greatly between companies but because there are so many meal kit companies established now, the competition is keeping prices down, while improving recipe variety. Today, you can find everything from vegetarian meal kits to halal or kosher meals.