Trademarks show Amazon has sights on meal-kits, “single cow burgers” and other fast food options


Amazon has made no secret of its ambitions to expand into more
fresh food services, from its own, homegrown efforts like
AmazonFresh for groceries (first launched in
2013) and Amazon
Restaurants
for restaurant delivery (first launched in
2014), through to its most recent plan to
acquire Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. In
fact, the company has its sights set on a number of other
culinary areas, such as the development of its own
farm-to-table products, Blue Apron-style meal kits, and other
food fixes to help it better tap the $800 billion grocery opportunity.

Last week, as we nosed around the various trademarks that have
been registered by Amazon to see if we could find anything
linked to a new messaging app we believe it is working
on, we stumbled upon a number of food-related trademarks.

Amazon this month filed a trademark (serial number 87517760)
for “We do the prep. You be the chef,” which relates to a
meal-kit service similar to the kind offered by Blue Apron and
others.

The filing is classically Amazon in its competitive boldness:
it is dated July 6 — coming just days after Blue Apron’s rocky IPO.

Amazon describes the service simply: “Prepared food kits
composed of meat, poultry, fish, seafood, fruit and/or and
vegetables and also including sauces or seasonings, ready for
cooking and assembly as a meal; Frozen, prepared, and packaged
meals consisting of meat, poultry, fish, seafood, fruit and/or
vegetables; fruit salads and vegetable salads; soups and
preparations for making soups.”

It looks like we are not the only ones to have noticed this meal kit filing in the
last few days.

It turns out that, in fact, company in the last seven months
had registered at least two other trademarks for slightly
shorter versions of the same meal kit concept. Respectively,
serial numbers 87418923 and 87256976 for “We prep. You cook”
and “No-line meal kits,” also relate to food-kit services along
with marketing related to them. (We have not yet been able to
find a filing for the actual brand name of such a service, or
evidence of an actual launch.)

We have asked Amazon to comment on the trademarks, and we will
update this post as we learn more.

In the meantime, the service would line up with other moves
that Amazon has made in food, where it has developed services
like delivery to rival existing, popular alternatives. Amazon
puts a lot of instant pressure into the market when it decides
it wants to do something: incumbents have gone through the
sweat of building a base of users with a demand for a product,
but once Amazon comes into the game, those incumbents are
hard-pressed to compete with their bigger rival on price and
logistics.

A meal kit service in particular also provides some proof to
rumors we’d been hearing that the company had plans to build a
meal kit clone, a rumor that surfaced around the time that Blue
Apron filed for an IPO and intensified with the news about
Whole Foods.

But if trademarks tell a kind of story, Blue Apron is not the
only food service that Amazon has been slowly cooking up.

In all, there are 110 trademarks related to food filed by
Amazon Technologies, with a strong theme of quick fixes.

Amazon also has been quietly developing its own lines of
pre-made food aimed at people searching for more quality
ingredients. The company has, for example, around 10 trademarks
filed related to the phrase “single cow burger”.

To be clear, this is actually related to a product Amazon already offers, Wagyu beef
burgers made from grass-fed cattle raised on a farm in
California. “How many cows does it take to make one burger?
Thanks to Amazon, just one,” the company writes in its
marketing materials. “Our high-quality patties are made from
one source and are available exclusively on AmazonFresh.”

Looking through Amazon’s food-related trademarks, it feels a
little odd to see such a disproportionate amount of filings
related to one single item, burgers. My theory: this is a
testing ground for Amazon, which is watching these burgers to
see how it might expand this kind of approach and branding into
more pre-prepared items. In the future, Amazon would be able to
source a wider range of products more easily, thanks to its
ownership of Whole Foods, so food (and wine) could be the next frontier for Amazon’s expansion of its
own-label products.

This is something that Amazon has already started developing
without much fanfare. A filing for another trademark, for “Some
eat to live. We live to eat,” is the tagline for Wickedly Prime, a new brand of snack foods and
other prepared aimed at foodies that Amazon quietly launched earlier this year. The
range currently features tea, chips and soups.

The focus on things like meal kits, snack items, and pre-made
food also fits with Amazon’s push for its express Prime
membership service and general focus on convenience. That ethos
is summed up in several other food-related trademarks the
company filed in December 2016 for “Grab good food” and “Good
food fast.” Serial number 87256879 is quintessentially Amazon,
very short and to the point: it is “Redefining fast.”

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