The Ins and Outs of Launching a Meal Kit Business

Raw vegetables and a knife placed on wooden chopping board

A booming food market

Meal kits; a concept that has existed for some years but have flourished since the dawn of the pandemic. 

In 2017, the UK meal kit industry was worth 420 million. In just three years, its value more than doubled, to over one billion by the end of 2020. Experts believe this trajectory will continue, and have estimated it to be worth 1.5 billion by 2025.

It’s certainly a big enough market to welcome more suppliers.

Are you looking to launch a meal kit business?Here’s some things you might just need to know…

What is a meal kit delivery service?

If you’re here, it’s because you already want to start a delivery service, and you’re just looking for a bit of info on where to begin. BUT, here’s a quick overview for those who are still finding their feet. 

Meal kit companies provide customers with all the ingredients they need to cook a meal at home, typically the raw ingredients to cook a meal from scratch or a prepared meal that needs reheating in an oven or hob. The key differentiator from the average takeaway meal is that they all require an element of cooking at home.

Why the increase in popularity? The surge in meal kit subscriptions started when leaving the house to visit a supermarket was quite the challenge. Since then, people have realised the number of other benefits of meal kits, and decided to join the trend:

  • Helps to reduce food wastage – ingredients are measured exactly to the recipe
  • Makes cooking healthy and nutritious meals easy for people with a busy schedule 
  • Make healthier choices when choosing meals
  • Know what ingredients are in every bite!

Steps to start a meal kit delivery business

Are you still convinced? Great! Below we’ve covered the basic information you need to get your meal kit business off the ground. 

Choose a meal kit concept and find your niche

Meal kits come in many different shapes and sizes, and the service you choose is up to personal preference. However, there is one key rule regardless of the meal kits you provide. 

Choose your meal kit concept, then find YOUR niche in that space! In a market that might end up with some fierce competition, you need to find a way to make your meal kit services unique – It’s the best way to be heard above the noise.

Prepared, uncooked ingredients

The current star of the show is meal kits delivering uncooked, measured and prepared ingredients for a specific meal. With such deliveries, customers log onto a digital menu each week and choose a set number of meals for the forthcoming week. 

These delivery boxes contain every ingredient for each meal, herbs and spices included, measured to the exact amount the recipe requires. There is also a simple recipe card for the budding chef to follow at home.

Industry leaders for meal kits of this kind are Gousto and HelloFresh. 

Prepared meals

Another option for food deliveries is fully prepared meals. This meal kit is ideal for those with very hectic schedules or those who don’t like to cook. You prepare the meal from start to finish and deliver it to your customer, ready for them to heat up and tuck in whenever they want to. Your customer has tasty soups, salads and meals ready and waiting to go.

Grocery boxes

A third ‘meal’ kit option is a grocery box. Grocery boxes aren’t a meal kit as such, but instead, a delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables right to your customer’s door. Grocery boxes are perfect for those with little time on their hands but still want to eat healthily or those looking to branch out from the ‘norm’. 

Popular grocery boxes such as OddBox, Riverford or Abel and Cole focus on a niche, such as organic produce, odd veg that can’t be sold in shops, or out-of-the-ordinary fruits or vegetables that aren’t in the average supermarket.

Start refining your business plan

Now is the time to create or refine your business plan. Your business plan will carve your path to success, so it’s worth spending some time refining over and over. Not only will it envision the future of your business and how to reach your goals, but it can also show your worth to any potential business investors. 

Your business plan should include:

  • Summary and description of the business
  • The business concept and branding
  • Your menu 
  • Costings for overheads and goods
  • Research into your target market
  • Advertising and marketing strategies
  • Extensive competitor analysis
  • All costings 
  • Your one, three and five-year goals
  • The production process
  • Management structure 
  • Staffing requirements

Find a commercial kitchen for food prep

Regardless of your business model, you need a clean and hygienic space to prep your meal kits or delivery boxes. A dark kitchen rental is an ideal workspace for meal kits and prepared meal deliveries. 

Dark kitchens have enough space for the stations you need, built-in ventilation, electric ports capable of running commercial kitchen equipment, and usually on-site cold storage rooms to keep your raw foods and ingredients fresh.

When looking for your perfect commercial kitchen to rent, choose a kitchen space with room for the following areas:

  • A preparation station
  • A cooking area – big enough for commercial cooking equipment
  • Packaging stations 
  • On-site cold storage or walk-in freezer (can be separate from your kitchen)
  • Shipping and distribution area

Obtain the necessary licences and permits

It goes without saying that to run a food business, you must obtain the appropriate licences and permits before you start operating. 

Each country has its own rules, regulations and requirements for food service, so we recommend heading to your Government site to find out the specifics of your area. 

If you are in the UK, we recently created a guide to commercial kitchen regulations. This covers everything from licences and permits, hygiene and waste disposal, fire and gas safety, equipment, refrigeration and beyond.

Dephna’s licensed commercial kitchens meet all British Standards and regulations. We also offer complete flexibility and 24-hour access to your kitchen rental, with commission-free deliveries. 

 

Find a food delivery kitchen in your area to scale up your meal kit delivery service. Enquire now to book a visit at our London locations.

by Dephna

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