As a growing number of celebrities are entering the food business, tasting greatness is no longer just a metaphor. Ayesha Curry, wife of NBA champion Stephen Curry, is the latest to join the trend. 

On Wednesday, Curry announced via Twitter the launch of Gather, a meal-kit delivery service that will ship ingredients and recipes to your doorstep each week:

Few details have been released about the business (e.g., how much the meals will cost, or when and where the service will be available), but a temporary landing page for Gather promises that recipes will be influenced by what Curry cooks for her own family.

Inc. reached out to Curry and her team, but did not immediately receive a reply for comment. 

Curry will be up against many celebrities-turned-food entrepreneurs, whose names alone are sure to reel in cutomers. Last year, Beyoncé, announced her own vegan delivery startup, more prosaically called 22 Days Nutrition. Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar recently co-founded Foodstirs, an e-commerce startup that makes baking kits. 

Challenges and opportunities in a very niche market

Incumbent players in the meal kit space include Blue Apron and Plated. Currently valued at $2 billion, Blue Apron is said to be planning for an IPO. (It helps that these companies have a large number of national fulfillment centers, and millions of dollars worth of venture capital funding.) Both also claim to source high-quality, nutritious ingredients, including esoteric veggies like "fairy-tale eggplants." 

While such startups are built on the premise of making cooking at home more affordable, a recent study from the NPD Group finds that the average meal kit ($10) is more than double the price of shopping for oneself. That could push more customers away over time.

Kim McLynn, a spokesperson for the NPD Group, sees challenges for companies trying to capture share of a very niche market. "Only 3 percent of the U.S. adult population have tried these services in the last year, so it's still a small behavior," she said.

One major barrier to trial is the cost of the meal kits. "Typically what we're seeing is that a meal kit replaces a restaurant visit because of the cost," McLynn added. She further suggests that celebrities may be less interested in achieving the same kind of scale as incumbent players, inasmuch as they can count on their dedicated social media followings.

The way McLynn sees it, every celebrity with a following in Hollywood will also have fans for their food business. "I would say in the realm of targeting, it [the startup] will certainly appeal to the fan base, and that's really what that's about," she said.

Beyond delivery services 

Holywood's elite have become interested in the food business more generally. In March of this year, Jessica Biel opened Au Fudge, a chic restaurant in one of L.A.'s wealthiest neighborhoods. Oprah Winfrey is looking to expand her business endeavors beyond OWN to food, according to The New York Daily News. The media mogul reportedly has plans to open a gourmet food store.

To what extent each of these celebrities is involved in their business is questionable, though, and one has to wonder if food is the new vanity play, à la perfume or makeup endorsements.

Published on: Jun 30, 2016