Whole Foods is using a 'Willy Wonka' factory to imitate one of the most successful food start-ups

Whole FoodsWhole Foods/FacebookCustomers at Whole Foods.

Whole Foods is getting into the meal-kit industry to compete with startups like Blue Apron.

“There’s a lot of people in the Willy Wonka laboratory working on this thing,” Whole Foods Chief Information Officer Jason J. Buechel said Wednesday on a call with analysts.

“Huge interest in this,” added Walter Robb, the company’s co-CEO.

The meal kit industry is booming.

About 100 companies now offer meal kits — or packages that contain groceries and accompanying recipes.

One of the leading companies in the industry, Blue Apron, is growing rapidly.

It now delivers about 8 million meals a month, up from about one million meals a month at the start of 2015, the company told Business Insider. Blue Apron was valued at about $2 billion in its last round of funding in June 2015.

Blue Apron isn’t alone — there’s also Plated, Hello Fresh, and local companies like PeachDish in Atlanta offering meal kits.

Blue Apron Blue ApronA sample meal from Blue Apron

The meal kit market in the US could grow by as much as $5 billion over the next decade, according to the New York Times .
Whole Foods executives didn’t provide many details on their plans to enter the meal-kit business.

“We’re not going to announce anything today,” Whole Foods Executive Vice President of Operations Ken Meyer said. “
But, we will say that we are committed to this category. We think we have a good strategy for it. It will be revealed.”

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