The New York Times is getting in on one of the biggest crazes in tech.
This summer, the Times will begin selling ready-to-cook ingredients for recipes on its cooking site through a partnership with Chef’d, a Los Angeles-based meal kit startup. The Times is licensing select recipes, curated by food editor Sam Sifton, to Chef’d, which will handle all of the actual ingredients, deliveries, and other logistics. Chef’d and the Times will share revenue from any sales, though both declined to comment on details of the split.
Meal kits are ultra-trendy in Silicon Valley right now. In the fourth quarter of 2015, venture capital funding to food tech companies accelerated even as investments to all startups slowed. The companies vying to deliver your dinner ingredients include Chef’d, Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Home Chef, Sun Basket, PeachDish, and Gobble. Their specific promises to consumers can vary–seasonal recipes, farm-fresh ingredients, meals made in 10 minutes or less. But on a broader level, they’re all selling the same thing: home cooking, in a tidy package.
The Times is looking at its partnership with Chef’d as a promising new revenue stream as print ad sales continue to slide. The paper launched NYT Cooking in September 2014, and today the site draws about 7 million monthly active users. “Our audience spends a lot of time cooking at home,” Alice Ting, vice president of brand development, licensing and syndication for the Times, told Bloomberg. “So for us it was a natural area to investigate.”
In the first quarter of 2016, the Times’ total advertising revenue fell 6.8%, with print ad revenue dropping 9% and digital declining 1.3%.
When the program launches this summer, customers will be able to purchase the Times-branded meal kits through Chef’d, which will deliver them in 24 to 48 hours. Chef’d prices its kits at $19-$39 (for a shipment that serves two) or $30-$80 (for a shipment that serves four). It delivers to all 48 continental US states.
Chef’d was founded two years ago and began serving up meal kits in April 2015. It works with over 90 companies and brands, of which 20 to 30 are publications, Robert Jones, the startup’s head of business development, said in an interview. Other partners include Good Housekeeping, Runner’s World, Weight Watchers, and Allrecipes. “Really, we’ve become a marketplace for other brands and companies,” Jones says.
For more on the meal kit trend, see the New York Times, which ran a big piece on them just a month ago.