Tasty offerings and click-to-order convenience have combined, giving savvy meal-kit and food delivery startups the ability to grow a bustling service industry that’s currently amassing more seats at the buffet.
With 27 percent of internet users purchasing restaurant and meal kits through the internet (2016)1, these brands are helping eliminate the headaches of meal planning and grocery shopping.
In doing so, the fresh-food meal-kit delivery market continues to flourish.
Despite that slice of alluring economic promise, gut-aches are looming.
Door-delivered meat, fish, poultry and produce are all ingredients for a memorable family meal — disastrously memorable when you’re cooking with spoiled goods.
This happens when that grass-fed filet falls below freshness standards. It happens due to subpar insulation found inside standard single-use packaging. And it happens more than we’d like.
A Rutgers-Tennessee State University study, presented at the 2017 Food Safety Summit in Rosemont, Ill., raised red flags about pathogens, packaging and cold-chain integrity, and it underscores the pickle we’ve been working to solve.3
Here, researchers ordered 169 meal kits, including entrees of 271 meat items, 235 seafood items, 133 game items, and 39 poultry items. Of the tested proteins, pathogen microbial loads varied widely, as did product temperatures upon delivery.
The take-home: “Nearly 47 percent of the 684 items ordered arrived with surface temperatures above 40 degrees, rendering them unsafe to consume.”
Proteins that fail to meet safe consumption standards, or a box of floppy produce that doesn’t make it onto the fork, inevitably end up tossed. In America, this is a growing concern, considering we scrap 52.4 million tons of food annually into our landfills.2
WHAT A WASTE
- $218 billion worth of food is thrown away each year, or 1.3% of GDP, growing, processing and transporting food that is never eaten3
- Food is the single largest component of municipal solid waste going to landfills, accounting for 21% by weight4
- Food waste quickly generates methane, a greenhouse gas 21x more potent than carbon dioxide5
Liviri Fresh offers grocery shippers and meal-kit delivery services a less wasteful alternative to standard corrugate shipping containers lined with subpar insulation. Our engineering and lab teams completed rigorous thermal tests and applied them to our reusable cold-shipping box to make that a reality.
Specifically, we benchmarked Liviri Fresh containers against two competitive insulation offerings: 1) 1.5” recycled denim, what we consider best-in-class single-use insulation, and 2) biodegradable corn starch, a lower performing alternative.
Then we loaded the competing containers, each with 3 pounds of meat, 8 pounds of produce and 10 pounds of ice packs. With the stopwatch ticking, engineers measured the time in all boxes to reach 40 degrees F.
Test parameters were designed to mimic high-temperature shipping conditions. Temps started at 70F, then cycled daily between 100F and 75F, keeping humidity at a sticky 60%. These temps and humidity levels are typical of cities in New York and Texas during summertime.
“Regardless if the product is being shipped to Phoenix in the dead of summer, with really dry heat, or to Louisiana, with high humidity, Liviri Fresh should function essentially the same no matter the external factors it might see,” says Otter Products Senior Mechanical Engineer Jon Guerdrum.
The secret ingredient to winning thermal capability? Vacuum Insulated Panels, aka VIPs. “’Vacuum’ is the key word,” Guerdrum explains. “It’s a really cool, aerospace-grade innovation that removes air within the panel to ensure that the thermal transfer of energy is reduced.”
In other words, VIP is a heavy-duty heat fighter with a comparatively thin physique. Next to bulky Styrofoam options, “you can get almost quadruple the amount of thermal stability,” Guerdrum says.
Additionally, thermal test results showed that Liviri Fresh consistently kept meal-kit shipments in temperature range 82% longer than 1.5” recycled denim, and 142% longer than 1.5” biodegradable corn starch (using ice packs as coolant).
We also measured coolant reduction (both ice packs and dry ice) over time. Liviri Fresh required 45-50% less coolant, which is noteworthy because it saves space in the box, it reduces the cost of the coolant, especially dry ice which is spendy, and it lowers the overall weight and waste.
By deploying improved refrigeration technology, by tackling food waste issues and by enabling container reuse, we are encouraging more people to enter the e-delivery world. And as more people jump on board, we expect increased opportunities for businesses to connect with consumers who feel good about the great food they’re getting and the reusable box that’s bringing it to them.
LIVIRI — Reimagine the Box
1 Source: https://www.statista.com/topics/3336/online-meal-kit-delivery-services-in-the-us/
2 Source: Progressive Grocer Grocerant Solutions September 2017, page 19
3 Source: Hallman, Bill / Rutgers-Tennessee State study / 2017 Food Safety Summit
4 Source: Deloitte US
5 Source: Deloitte US
6 Source: Environmental Protection Agency, 2015
7 Source: Environmental Protection Agency, 2015