Those home-delivered meal kits are greener than you thought, new study concludes

phys.org | 3/19/2019 | Staff
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Meal kit services, which deliver a box of pre-portioned ingredients and a chef-selected recipe to your door, are hugely popular but get a bad environmental rap due to perceived packaging waste.

But a new study from University of Michigan researchers found that meal kits have a much lower overall carbon footprint than the same meals purchased at a grocery store, despite having more packaging.

Greenhouse - Gas - Emissions - Kit - Dinners

Average greenhouse gas emissions were one-third lower for meal kit dinners than the store-bought meals when every step in the process—from the farm to the landfill—was considered, according to the study.

The main reason? Pre-portioned ingredients and a streamlined supply chain lower the overall food loss and waste for meal kits compared to store-bought meals.

Kits - Food - Waste - Shelie - Miller

"Meal kits are designed for minimal food waste," said Shelie Miller of the U-M Center for Sustainable Systems in the School for Environment and Sustainability, senior author of the study scheduled for publication April 22 in the journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling. The first author is U-M doctoral student Brent Heard.

"So, while the packaging is typically worse for meal kits, it's not the packaging that matters most," Miller said. "It's food waste and transportation logistics that cause the most important differences in the environmental impacts of these two delivery mechanisms."

Blue - Apron - HelloFresh - Plated - US

Since Blue Apron, HelloFresh and Plated entered the U.S. market in 2012, dozens of other companies have started selling meal kits that shoppers can order online and cook at home. Refrigeration packs in the boxes keep ingredients cold.

Annual U.S. meal kit sales reached an estimated $3.1 billion in 2018 with a growth rate of nearly 22 percent, according to the Packaged Facts research firm. In a 2018 Nielsen survey, 9 percent of U.S. consumers surveyed said they had purchased a meal kit, while 25 percent of respondents said they would consider trying a meal kit in...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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