COVID-19

It’s suddenly a great time to be in the meal-kit business

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal May 19, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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A farmer works in a broccoli field in March. Julio Cesar Aguilar/Getty Images
COVID-19

It’s suddenly a great time to be in the meal-kit business

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal May 19, 2020
A farmer works in a broccoli field in March. Julio Cesar Aguilar/Getty Images
Share Now on:
HTML EMBED:
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Meal kits — boxes filled with proportioned ingredients and recipes — peaked in popularity a few years ago. However, the coronavirus pandemic is causing something of a renaissance for the industry, as Americans are cooking more and going out to restaurants less. “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal spoke about it with Andy Levitt, founder and CEO of the plant-based meal kit company Purple Carrot.

“A year ago, it wasn’t that great to be in the meal-kit business,” Levitt said. “Fast forward to today with the pandemic, the demand from consumers for meal kits has just skyrocketed.”

With some restaurants closed and some people afraid to go to grocery stores, Levitt said his company’s “volume has increased by about 100% over the past eight weeks.”

“Invariably we’ve had to make some last-minute substitutions,” he said. “If we had planned broccolini, for example, instead we have to substitute broccoli because a particular product was in short supply.”

Despite the increase in business, Levitt believes that as life gets back to normal, Purple Carrot will see some sort of decline. “But I believe that our total number of customers will probably be about 50% higher than our total baseline of customers before the pandemic.”

Click the audio player above to hear the interview.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

When does the expanded COVID-19 unemployment insurance run out?

The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March, authorized extra unemployment payments, increasing the amount of money, and broadening who qualifies. The increased unemployment benefits have an expiration date — an extra $600 per week the act authorized ends on July 31.

Which states are reopening?

Many states have started to relax the restrictions put in place in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Although social-distancing measures still hold virtually everywhere in the country, more than half of states have started to phase out stay-at-home orders and phase in business reopenings. Others, like New York, are on slower timelines.

Is it worth applying for a job right now?

It never hurts to look, but as unemployment reaches levels last seen during the Great Depression and most available jobs are in places that carry risks like the supermarket or warehouses, it isn’t a bad idea to sit tight either, if you can.

You can find answers to more questions here.

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