Home delivery of predefined meals used to just be be for the elderly or the overweight — but then Swedish startup Middagsfrid had the idea of offering home-delivered, pre-packed groceries matched to everyday recipes, and suddenly the meal kit became a thing.
This month, My Food Bag, New Zealand’s first meal kit company, celebrates nine years in the businesses and shares some insights.
Meal kit pioneers
Established in 2007, Middagsfrid’s vision was for a better culinary world where people value home-cooked meals based on quality ingredients selected with consideration for health, the environment and climate concerns. Clearly another cool thing to come out of Sweden — in a long line after ABBA, IKEA, nordic knits, meatballs, Greta Thunberg and more.
The meal kit concept quickly found favour with time-poor working parents and others as it spread across central Europe and, by 2012, to the United States. Meal kits were found to be great for helping teenagers learn to cook at home and for co-ordinating meals in flats. meanwhile critics here and elsewhere point to the huge amount of extra packaging generated.
Meal kits Aotearoa
In 2013 New Zealand’s My Food Bag was co-founded by Theresa Gattung, Cecilia Robinson and husband James Robinson, celebrity chef Nadia Lim and husband Carlos Bagrie. Next followed by the slightly more gourmet Woop and My Food Bag’s budget-friendly option, Bargain Box. In 2018 HelloFresh arrived from Germany, quickly gaining a large slice of the Kiwi meal kit pie. On a smaller scale, Yum Jar is a Wellington-based zero waste, vegetarian Meal Box service.
The arrival of Covid-19 lockdowns boosted the growth of meal kit deliveries, as people tried to avoid supermarkets while simultaneously embracing the comforts and distractions of home cooking. A few years on and My Food Bag, Woop, Bargain Box and HelloFresh continue to jostle and grow in popularity. Which one is best? While they share the same business model, they do have important differences, highlighted by various surveys. See here and here.
Meal kit trends
After delivering more than 105 million meals to Kiwis since launching in 2013, the My Food Bag team have a few insights to share about New Zealand’s food trends.
“We’ve seen a huge demand in takeaway style food with foodies wanting to create their go-to favourites at home”, says Head of Development Kitchen, Polly Brodie.
“We’ve also noticed that dining trends and social media are opening people up to being more adventurous with their eating, for example, gochujang – fermented Korean chili paste – would have been scary to some before, but Korean food is huge right now, we have supplied nearly 9 tonnes of our famous Korean Sticky Chilli Sauce in the last year alone!”
Kiwi’s also want ease and convenience, with our ready-made meals increasing year on year. This speaks to our continued love of comfort food with a huge amount of top rated and highly selected recipes being delicious, comforting meals set to sooth the soul.
Kiwis love comfort food. Development Kitchen Manager, Amber Thoresen says: In 2021, our customers went crazy for fragrant curries, decadent pastas, cheesy lasagnes, home-made pies and tray bakes, with a strong preference towards our 15-minute recipe options. Our most popular 15-minute recipe of the year was Chorizo Pappardelle with Red Pepper Pesto Sauce.
“Burgers also continued to be a popular option for Kiwi foodies, with 30,000 wagyu beef sliders being snapped up over Summer and more than 635,000 burgers enjoyed across the year,” said Amber.
The biggest overall trend My Food Bag observed was an increasing demand for a variety of proteins. Although Kiwis continued their love for favourites like free range chicken, lamb and beef – with their Seared Beef Eye Fillet featuring Handcut Chips & Pink Peppercorn Béarnaise being their most popular dish of 2021 – they also ordered more New Zealand free farmed pork and venison, as well as seafood and vegetarian options.
“Protein variety has increased a lot over the past year. Seafood used to be a polarising choice, but these days our fish, salmon and prawn recipes are very popular – particularly over the warmer months. Our customers have also proven to us that protein doesn’t have to be meat based with tofu, falafel, free range eggs and legumes forming the main protein source for many recipes. We have sampled plant-based chicken and minces too and will keep trying new products as they come to market,” said Amber.
- The biggest overall trend My Food Bag observed was an increasing demand for a variety of proteins. While Chicken remains the most popular protein of choice, followed by beef, there has been a huge increase in demand for protein variety including pork, seafood and vegetarian options
- Dining trends and social media are opening people up to being more adventurous with their eating. For example, gochujang (fermented Korean chilli paste) may not have been on the menu for many Kiwis before, but My Food Bag supplied nearly 9 tonnes of their famous Korean Sticky Chilli sauce in the last year alone which highlighted our love of Korean cuisine
- Kiwis have proven we are busier than ever with My Food Bag’s 15-minute meals often being the most selected recipe of the week. Nearly half a million 15-minute meals were snapped up in the past year, and the demand for ready-made meals is increasing year-on-year.
- 2021 saw the introduction of My Food Bag’s Kitchen offering, allowing Kiwis to add-on grocery items to conveniently arrive with their meal kits. Showcasing that New Zealand has a strong sweet tooth, the Brown Butter Choc Chunk Cookie Mix and Strawberry Mascarpone Cheesecake proved to be last year’s most popular offerings
- Burgers also continued to be a popular option for Kiwi foodies, with 30,000 wagyu beef sliders being snapped up over Summer and more than 635,000 burgers enjoyed across the year
As part of the birthday celebrations, My Food Bag has released a a limited edition e-book with their top 12 recipes across the year, available for free download here.