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The Pandemic Gave Blue Apron a Lifeline. Can It Last?

When shutdowns lift, it’ll be competing against unprecedented pent-up demand for eating outside of the home

Stephen Moore
Published in
8 min readDec 28, 2020


Emily Griffin reads a recipe for a Blue Apron meal while unpacking her box at her Lisbon Falls home.
Photo: Derek Davis/Portland Portland Press Herald/Getty Images

At its peak in 2015–2016, Blue Apron was delivering over eight million meals per month and raking in over $1 billion in annual sales. Within just five years of its inception, it was employing 4,500 people and was valued at over $2 billion.

It looked set to dominate the meal kit market, helping meal prep delivery overthrow traditional shopping and home cooking. But then the bottom fell out of the box: The market quickly became saturated with competitors like HelloFresh, and in response, Blue Apron overspent to acquire customers and retain them. After a disastrous IPO in 2017 and facing competition from Amazon, the company was at rock bottom. By the beginning of 2020, it looked like the writing was on the wall. But then suddenly, after years of flailing, the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic became Blue Apron’s unlikely savior.

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