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Blue Apron Takes On Amazon and Walmart With Unique Recipe

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Blue Apron founder and CEO Matt Salzberg has discovered a niche in the business of fresh food same-day delivery. It's not easy going up against Amazon  and its Amazon Fresh service, it's tough competing with Walmart and Target , which are increasingly getting into the same-day delivery mix. And then there's fellow upstart Instacart, which uses personal shoppers to pick groceries from Whole Foods and others.

Blue Apron, which  reportedly is valued at $500 million following a financing raise, utilizes a different approach to the same-day delivery of fresh food relative to its competitors. For $9.99 per person, per meal, a subscriber receives a box all of the ingredients and several recipes required to make a unique meal at home.

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In an interview, Salzberg described Blue Apron's business model.

Brian Sozzi: Blue Apron is literally at the epicenter of all sorts of food movements. What are a couple of the themes you are finding when studying data on the items getting packed into those neat-looking boxes?

Salzberg: We're most focused on providing the freshest, seasonal ingredients to our customers. Our sourcing experts have built strong relationships with farms and suppliers so we can send hard-to-find ingredients directly to our customers, without having the food sit on a supermarket shelf or in a distribution center for days.

Our culinary team works hand in hand with our sourcing experts so we can build menus around what's freshest in the markets. For us, there isn't just one ingredient that is about to burst onto the scene, it's about seasonality. Our customers get excited about cooking with unique and interesting seasonal ingredients -- in recent weeks we've sent garlic scapes, ramps, pea shoots, fiddlehead ferns, and squash blossoms, to name a few.

Sozzi: I suspect there is a huge opportunity to fill food desserts, or places where people lack access to fresh food, across the country. To gain scale in these zones, and to ultimately get a Walmart mom pulling in a $25,000 annual salary pretax to subscribe to a Blue Apron, will the company have to partner with a Walmart or Target to create the affordable, unbeatable subscription? It would seem that a Walmart should want to partner with you in a big way.

Salzberg: We have a huge opportunity to give our customers access to ingredients that are fresher and cheaper than what they find at their local supermarkets. Typical grocery stores, such as Target and Walmart, need to stock all food for all occasions, which creates a lot of additional waste. By working directly with suppliers, cooking food that is in season, and pre-portioning ingredients so you're getting exactly what you need, we're eliminating a lot of waste in the grocery supply chain. We've been able to pass that savings to our customers, so if you were to try to recreate a Blue Apron recipe buying from local grocery stores, it would be far more expensive.