Meal delivery services like Blue Apron and HelloFresh are rising in popularity and profitability, according to a report published by Packaged Facts. The report expects these sales to exceed $1 billion in 2016. The meal delivery trend is an alternative to fast food and some college students are taking advantage of it.
BYU senior Zack Kitterman, studying landscape management, used the HelloFresh delivery service for three months when he and his wife were looking for good, healthy meal ideas for two people. While his experience with the service was “very good overall” he cautions other college students to be wary of pricing when considering a meal delivery service.
“Although the meal plan service is only slightly more when broken down per meal than going to the store yourself, you have to take into account that these meals are pricier overall than what the typical college student eats,” Kitterman said.
The average cost of a dinner at home is $4. However, the average cost of eating dinner at a restaurant is $10 which is the equivalent of the average cost of a meal delivery, according to a study performed by the National Purchase Diary Group.
BYU health coach and senior in dietetics Lisa Keovongsa said costliness could be a big concern for students, but time management may make meal delivery more appealing.
“I think in terms of time it might be helpful, but people have to balance out what’s more important to them: saving time by spending a little bit more money or taking a little bit more time to prepare a quick lunch and take it with you,” Keovongsa said.
Services like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron compete on a national level, but there are delivery services such as Ultimate Food Essentials, Meals That Transform and Wasatch Fresh exclusive to Utah.
Salt Lake City’s Ultimate Food Essentials prides itself on being a gourmet food service, according to owner Giovanni Bouderbala. Bouderbala was the head chef of One World Cafe in Salt Lake before he decided to start Ultimate Food Essentials. Bouderbala believed there was a need for a service producing meals for people trying to live a healthy lifestyle.
“Having a meal service makes it convenient. You get to choose what you want to eat and they will come to your home,” Bouderbala said. “You really know that you have somebody that cares about your meals, and you don’t have to worry about it.”
Bouderbala said the difference between his meal service and bigger chains, like Blue Apron, is that he chooses to shop and produce locally.
“Our money and the client’s money stays here in Utah,” Bouderbala said. “We invest the money back into the community and into small businesses here in Utah.”
Another option for meal delivery is Meals That Transform, a business born from a “necessity” for celebrity trainer Angela Martindale’s clients.
“I felt like everybody needed to be treated like a celebrity,” Martindale said about starting her business. “Everybody needs a private chef, everybody needs nutrition counseling. Everyone needs a personal trainer.”
Martindale said subscribing to Meals That Transform means getting a diet customized to a client’s unique needs.
“It’s based on your nutritional needs and what each individual person needs,” Martindale said. “So my diet might be different than my neighbor’s diet, and that’s fine.”
Recently opened Wasatch Fresh is another meal delivery service in the area. Founder Page Viehweg spent time studying to become a chef in Italy and as Sur La Table’s resident chef before she decided to open Wasatch Fresh in June 2016.
Viehweg compared paying someone to walk your dog or having someone change your oil to using a delivery service. Some people are able to do these tasks themselves, but they don’t have time or it’s inconvenient.
“If a college student is concentrating on studying and perhaps juggling a job as well, a nutritious meal delivered to them a few times a week is a pretty sweet deal,” Viehweg said. “Plus we take the stress out of the equation.”