How Subscription Food Services Are Changing The Grocery Industry

Madeleine af Ugglas

In my home country of Sweden, work-life balance has an important emphasis in our culture. One of the greatest advances of this mindset has come via the digital world: the ability to order groceries online. Today 1 of 5 Swedes buy their food via the web, as it allows them to save time and eat more healthily. Though this is a small part of the total revenue, the growth rate over the past few years has been around 40 percent and is expected to grow even more.

This offers huge potential for companies to capitalize on people’s desire  to save time and eat better. The competition to gain and keep loyal customers is fierce, and thinking outside of the box is critical. Grocery retailers must expand their idea of competitiveness. In the pre-Internet days, competition meant better pricing. Today, it means better service and catering to the clientele of the future while retaining the values of today.

Grocery retailers banking on the success of the Internet are crafting a multitude of new options for online customers,  including a popular subscription service called the Recipe Bag. The Recipe Bag is stocked with the week’s dinner menus and delivered to customers’ doorsteps, complete with recipes and all the groceries needed to prepare the healthy meals.

The makers of this service recognized a market need for families who want to cook wholesome meals, but lack the time and inspiration to do so every day. Recipe Bags are quite personalized; you can order them in different sizes and choose from features such as 100 percent ecological, easy to cook, vegetarian, childrens’ favorites, lactose-free, etc. Consumers decide what they want, place the order, and the bag is delivered, along with some small surprises to delight the recipients.

One of my favorite new concepts is enabling customers to choose between set-menu bags or designing your own recipe bag. This concept has just been launched by a large Swedish grocery chain, and I believe it will become a very successful model in the future of grocery commerce. On Sunday evening, families choose the recipes they fancy to eat during the upcoming week. (Very smart, as our taste buds are highly personalized!) As a mom of two hungry boys, I take this concept one step further—the recipe my boys choose is the recipe they help me cook. It works like a charm, while also helping to teach kids nutrition and cooking skills.

Swedes are very accustomed to shopping online, eager to try new trends, and have no strong food culture—plus, it is quite expensive to eat out here. More importantly, many women in Sweden work, and there is a strong trend toward cooking healthy food from scratch. This is a hard equation to solve without help. But with innovations like the recipe-bag service, we can look forward to a future where we can balance our busy lives with healthy home-cooked meals, and all consumers win!

To learn more about the future of the grocery industry, visit