Millennials Seem to Be Key to Meal-Kit Subscription Success

Generational divide on a new food option

Author: Monica Melton

September 11, 2017

Meal kits face an uphill fight to reach a broad audience, but millennials are considerably more interested in prepared food services—and are likely to be key to their long-term success.

According to a July 2017 study conducted by Fluent LLC, an advertising technology company, 16% of US internet users subscribe to a meal-kit delivery service. But millennials were found to be considerably more likely to subscribe than nonmillennials.

A number of surveys have found somewhat similar results. For example, a Harris Poll in December 2016 found that 25% of US internet users had purchased a meal kit in the past 12 months. That’s higher than the 16% found by Fluent, but Fluent’s survey focused on current subscribers.

Similarly, a Field Agent survey found that 27% of US smartphone users had ordered at least one meal kit.

But also in line with other survey data, the Fluent study found that cost is a significant barrier for many consumers. Fluent asked respondents if they would be interested in a meal kit with fresh ingredients that was priced at $9.95 per serving, and overall 75% said they would not be. Millennials were more likely to say they'd be interested, but even so, 64% indicated they were not.

Of those who were not, 34% said the reason was cost: Nearly $10 per serving was too expensive. Almost as many—32%—said they didn’t want a recurring subscription.

Another survey conducted in July, this one by Morning Consult, found an even sharper focus on cost, with 59% of respondents who hadn't tried meal kits saying that cost was the main reason.

Despite the price resistance, market research firm Packaged Facts forecast this summer that sales of meal kits will grow at an average of 20% per year over the next five years, more than doubling the market's current estimated size of $4.65 billion.