Meal Kits are simply a packet that contains small packets of individual ingredients that make up a particular recipe (Read More)
So, in essence, there are 2 components to a Meal Kit packaging.
- The Outer Bag or the Master Bag or the Main Bag or the Box that contains all the Sachets
- The Inner Packets that contain the Individual Ingredients in the portioned quantity forming the sachets as part of complete kit.
Now, deciding the right packaging is such a diverse and subjective process that it’s essential to understand the business process you’ll be choosing.
For a subjective reference, lets see how packaging differs according to the business model chosen.
Subscription Based Meal Kits
Subscription based Meal Kits are especially useful to customers who like to follow a regiment. People who are fitness enthusiasts like to Subscribe to a service that gives them Meal Kits in a timely manner on a daily or weekly basis.
Similar to Pre Order functionalities, Dailykit has built in the ability for customers to Subscribe to a particular restaurant’s services thus giving customers a lot of options to sell meal kits using many different channels
The inner packaging depends on a variety of things along with the nature of the ingredients.
As a rule, it is advisable to package individual ingredients in a way that the wet ingredients do not affect the dry ingredients.
Let’s take a look at the packaging based on the ingredient category:
- Spices: Spices can be very easily packed in small paper bags or zip lock bags.
- Sauces: Sauces can be packed in zip locks and also in small bottles.
- Dry Dairy Products: Products in the category of cheese can be packed in a paper bag or wrapped in shrink wrap.
- Wet Dairy Product: Ingredients like cream, curd, milk should be delivered sealed in a plastic container or a carton.
- Solid Vegetables: If the vegetable provided is raw like onion, cabbage etc, they can be put as it is inside the box or packaged in a paper bag.
If the vegetables are prepped i.e. chopped or pureed, a container or zip lock is recommended.
- Leafy Vegetables: Leafy vegetables can be enclosed in a plastic ziplock or a paper bag.
- Meat: It is advisable to pack Meal Kit in a plastic container so that the surface of the packaging does not stick with meat.
Please note: It may happen that some of the ingredients are available as a sachet from the manufacturer such as ketchup or butter. In those cases, they do not require additional packaging.
Subscription/Mail-Order Business Model
Let's take an example of Blue Apron to begin with. BlueApron is synonymous with those who have used a subscription service like this. People must be familiar with the packaging that Blue Apron Meal Kits comes with but those who aren’t, this is what their outer packaging looks like
And this is how it looks from inside
This is what the box looks like empty from inside with the insulation and ice packs
Now in case of BlueApron and services similar to this, one thing to note is that they are not hyperlocal and shipping from their central facility using fedex or UPS similar services. So, it is quite natural for them to bulk up their packaging with ice packs and insulation.
Surprisingly, in BA’s case, packaging weighs 2/3rd of the box weighing mainly because of the ice packs, which is not required in case of hyperlocal delivery.
Shelf-Based Meal Kits
A bigger trend arising these days is the shelving of Meal Kits in grocery aisles inside open aerated refrigerators. When compared to mail-order packaging, this requires strikingly light packaging. Here’s a picture of the packaging of Meal Kit kept by BlueApron in retail.
Also, another take by Publix market in packaging is this
They use a paper bag that is easy to carry and also more environmentally sustainable as compared to using a plastic bag.
But Wait, Do we need to put Ice Packs?
Well, first, Icepacks are required for perishable items that need to stay fresh and consumable from the time of delivery to the time of consumption.
So, the smart answer would be that Meal Kit does not need ice packs rather it’s the supply chain process of your Business Model that will decide that.
Incase of services like BlueApron, Ice Pack is mandated because of large transit times. So, the answer is clear when shipping across states that ice packs are needed to avoid deterioration.
So what about IcePacks in Local fulfillment?
Well, let’s imagine this.. When perishable ingredients like Vegetables or Meat is bought from a grocery store, either shopping yourself or through instacart, do we really use ice packs for them? Well in 99.99% of the cases the answer is a resounding No, Right?
None of the grocery stores are responsible for providing you ice packs when any perishable products are bought because it is considered the responsibility of the buyer to refrigerate the product in their home kitchen if not consumed immediately.
So, with whatever model you have chosen, if your Meal Kit can stay fresh during transit to be refrigerated again by the consumer, there is absolutely no need for the ice-packs.
So, now the question remains, how should you decide the ideal packaging for your brand?
Have a look at how Groctaurant, a Hyperlocal Meal Kit brand run by a restaurant kitchen used to pack Meal Kits..
Laid out like this nicely as if ready for a chef’s kitchen table.
Looking like this once cooked.
More Sustainable Ideas
If packaging is least required in any meal kit models, it’s through hyperlocal on-demand delivery, which restaurants and grocers can very easily fulfill.
Some ideas to make packaging sustainable to it’s absolute limit
Here are few examples of it
The above examples require you to customize your recipes based on the packaging. Some more points to keep in mind could be..
- Use as much paper based material for things that are dry.
- Few Restaurants in Bangalore, India, use a very thin piece of cloth as the outer bag.
- Consumers can be persuaded to put a security deposit for 2 sets of tupperware boxes in which Meal Kits are delivered if they are regular subscribers. More about this will be part of study.
So, to sum it up, Meal Kits need the right technology and it can be packaged exactly how you think it should be. There are countless companies selling the best of packaging that you will ever require for this and we can help you find them.
DailyKit’s software allows you to select a custom label for every ingredient type so it’s all dynamic and smooth. DailyKIT has a built in packaging module from which Restaurants / Food Businesses can order packaging from directly without getting into the nuances of it.
DailyKit prints a label anytime an ingredient is check-weighed, this label contains the information decided by you per ingredient along with a QR code/Barcode for you to scan while assembling.
Some things for the future
With the rising trend of traceability and transparency, we’re tying up with the blockchain based solution that will allow consumers to scan the ingredient label and find out all the details to the farm level for that ingredient. Awesome isn’t it?