Specialty Food Magazine

Spring 2019

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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70 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com Kenshiro Uki and his sister, Hisae, have been working with Blue Apron since 2014 and until then mostly sold their Sun Noodle ramen to New York City restaurants. But thanks to Blue Apron, "families we couldn't reach have heard of us," says Uki, vice president of operations at the Honolulu, Hawaii, company. "Blue Apron educated them about fresh ramen and our retail ramen is now in parts of the country that we've never been to. It's made it much more approachable and helped consumers understand what fresh ramen is." Meeting Blue Apron's demand was difficult at first, so the com- pany ramped up production in its New Jersey facility for two years before it came on board. Last year, it sold roughly two million ramen servings to the meal kit company, and though the number f luctu- ates depending on the recipes Blue Apron creates, the quantity has increased annually. Customers continue to turn to meal kits for the ease and inno- vation they offer. According to a study by Datassential, 39 percent of respondents like discovering new ingredients through using meal kits. These are often supplied by small, specialty food companies for which providing their products can be a boon. Brooklyn Delhi founder Chitra Agrawal, whose Tomato Achaar Indian Chile-Tomato Sauce won the 2018 Winter Fancy Food Show's Front Burner Foodservice Pitch Competition, was introduced through a friend to New York City-based Blue Apron in 2017. Today, the company uses her Tomato Achaar in several meal kits. "They'd initially looked to include it in Indian-style meal kits but their culinary team put it in all types of recipes. We saw it as being a crossover product that didn't need to just live in an Indian meal," Agrawal says. "Their chefs really ran with it." While working with Blue Apron has meant a steady income for Agrawal, who provides about one million 1.5-ounce cups of achaar to the company annually, it's also helped get Brooklyn Delhi's name out there, which is beneficial because Brooklyn Delhi can't afford demos at this point. Scaling Up Agrawal has scaled up production since working with Blue Apron but has not made any changes to her recipe—she simply provides her product in 1.5-ounce cups. S ales of meal kits in the United States in 2017 totaled $2.6 billion, a figure that was estimated to reach $3.1 billion by the end of last year—a 22 percent jump, according to the report, "Meal Kits: Trends and Opportunities in the U.S.," from Packaged Facts. BY AMANDA BALTAZAR Selling to Meal Kit Companies: What You Need to Know Specialty food makers are forging mutually beneficial relationships with meal kit makers. article bug specialtyfood.com ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE 70 specialty food maker

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