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
HTML EMBED:
COPY

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

New COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. are on the rise. How are Americans reacting?

Johns Hopkins University reports the seven-day average of new cases hit 68,767 on Sunday  — a record — eclipsing the previous record hit in late July during the second, summer wave of infection. A funny thing is happening with consumers though: Even as COVID-19 cases rise, Americans don’t appear to be shying away from stepping indoors to shop or eat or exercise. Morning Consult asked consumers how comfortable they feel going out to eat, to the shopping mall or on a vacation. And their willingness has been rising. Surveys find consumers’ attitudes vary by age and income, and by political affiliation, said Chris Jackson, who heads up polling at Ipsos.

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

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