An article discussing whether or not meal kits are contributing to the food waste problem.
One of the most persistent problems to plague the developed world is food wastage. While many underdeveloped nations find difficulties feeding their population, many more developed nations struggle with food waste and unhealthy diets, leading to endemic issues like obesity and heart disease.
To combat this, governments and communities have sought to educate the public and encourage them to make better decisions, but this approach has proved to be ineffective.
But, with the rise of specially designed meal kits, could we finally be at the cusp of a viable solution to this problem?
Examining the most popular meal kits, their mission, design, and initiatives, the short answer is yes, meal kits seem perfectly poised to tackle food wastage and a host of other food-related issues in modern society.
The term ‘meal kit’ is not usually well-defined. A given meal kit may cover food consumption for a day, while others may be designed to replace your grocery shopping for over a week, depending on the company. However, most meal kits work on a weekly basis, where a supply of food is delivered to the recipient each week for as long as a recipient is subscribed to the service. Some meal kits deliver pre-made meals that simply need to be reheated by the recipient, while others come with all the ingredients the recipient needs as well as instructions to cook their own meals.
Meal kits are also excellent options for people looking to eat more balanced or healthier meals, so it can help fight the poor diets often seen in the developed world.
The business model of meal kit companies allows them to have an accurate assessment of the quantity of food they need to supply every week, limiting their food wastage due to surplus stock.
For example, while a grocery store may have a rough estimate of the number of customers they will receive in a given week, as well as predict the foods these customers may purchase, these figures are a lot less accurate than those of a meal kit supply company. This means grocery stores stock more food that may go to waste unconsumed than meal kit companies.
Meal kits work with a subscription model, so consumers are also less likely to purchase excessive food for the week. Many meal kit companies strive to portion their meals, so their customers eat enough to be satisfied but don’t have any food leftover or wasted, so they don’t spend more than necessary on any given meal.
This means meal kit companies are incentivized to provide reasonable portion sizes. However, it also means customers who struggle to portion their meal sizes properly no longer have to rely on their own estimates, thereby reducing leftover wastage.
Most food wastage comes from expired or spoiled food, such as food that is unsold before its expiration date or food that is purchased but unconsumed before it spoils. As meal kits are compelled to purchase fresh food each week, they don’t run the risk of food expiring before consumption, so this risk is effectively eradicated. However, when discussing meal kits, it’s important to acknowledge how their other selling points are also quite sustainable.
Despite rampant food wastage across the developed world, consumers don’t actually want to waste food. It amounts to a costly problem to both consumers and sellers. However, food is often an experience all its own and not just a source of sustenance. Consumers want to be able to enjoy flavorful dishes without wasting them, but sometimes the difficulty of preparing these dishes deters them long enough for their ingredients to spoil, or they simply don’t end up enjoying the dish itself.
One of the core values of meal kits to consumers is its personalized selection of kits. For example, if a consumer prefers a particular ingredient, or if they have limited cooking abilities, a meal kit supplier may customize their weekly meals to suit their preferences of abilities. Meal kits are also excellent options for people looking to eat more balanced or healthier meals, so it can help fight the poor diets often seen in the developed world.
The popularity of meal kits is an indication that they filled a much-needed void in the market, and their usage is projected to only increase in the coming years.
Meal kits help reduce food wastage because they are financially incentivized to proportion each meal perfectly.
Meal kits also follow a sustainable business model, as the number of subscribers they have tells them exactly how much food to prepare, reducing stock wastage.
Additionally, meal kits help consumers have more moderate and well-balanced meals, reducing the prevalence of poor diets.
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