Take a moment to think about the following facts1:
- Every year, consumers in industrialized countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (222 million vs. 230 million tons)
- The amount of food lost and wasted every year is equal to more than half of the world’s annual cereals crops (2.3 billion tons in 2009/10)
- In the USA, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month
Now look at the following facts2:
- Around the world, 842 million people do not have enough of the food they need to live an active, healthy life.
- One in every eight people goes to bed hungry each night.
Somehow these two sets of facts do not align, and there is an obvious problem in getting the food that is supplied by the market to the people who demand it in a sustainable way.
Blue Apron is a company whose business model strives to solve this challenge in a profitable way. In the coming future, as the Earth’s resources are further strained to cater to higher demands, companies that produce and distribute food in efficient ways will become more important. Blue Apron delivers a box of fresh ingredients, straight to your door with easy to cook recipes and directions. The value proposition to the customer is the ease of takeout combined with the freshness of a home-cooked meal, all for a low price of $10 per meal3. There are a few ways that Blue Apron achieves this objective.
Reduction in food wastage: Ideally, whenever anyone cooks a salad, they can harvest half a tomato, a few lettuce leaves, two eggs from their household chicken, a few tablespoons of olive oil, half an avocado and two leaves of parsley. However, the reality is that customers have to buy more than what they need from a supermarket. In turn, the supermarket must procure more produce from distributors to keep their shelves stacked and provide options to their customers. In turn, the distributors must demand more from farmers to account for seasonal changes in supermarket ordering patterns. Each of these stages involves an enormous amount of overproduction, overstocking, and ultimately excess wastage. Blue Apron, on the other hand, delivers to the customer, the perfect amount of each ingredient required for cooking a specific meal serving. This reduces layers in the supply chain, and reduces the food wastage to a minimum.
Use of local ingredients: Blue Apron sources their raw ingredients directly from high quality local farms and suppliers, cutting out the middlemen and the wastage associated with high transportation distances4. This creates a lean supply chain, with just in time delivery directly to the consumers. The use of local ingredients reduces the carbon footprint and supports the local economy5. Going a step further, Blue Apron is actively supporting farmers who use regenerative farming practices that help build healthy soil for future generations6. This promotes a responsibility towards the natural resources that we have been blessed with on Earth, but have taken for granted since the industrial revolution.
Promotion of better eating habits: On the demand side, making cooking time, effort and cost efficient for consumers to cook fresh, healthy and high-quality meals at home promotes long-term sustainable eating habits. Since 1975, sugar consumption and obesity rates have skyrocketed, with obesity rates going from 10% to 60%7. As we become more aware of the long-term effects of healthy and unhealthy food consumption, our reliance on companies that promote healthy eating habits will only increase.
In conclusion, Blue Apron is a company that has set itself up for success and lasting impact as the effects of climate change become more and more pronounced.
Cover Photo11 https://www.blueapron.com/pages/mission
World hunger13 http://fbcgso.org/world-hunger-special-offering/