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Martha Stewart gets into meal-kit business

Existing meal kit company Marley Spoon to be renamed Martha & Marley Spoon

Cooking like Martha Stewart is about to get easier.

The home goods mogul and cookbook author is getting into the fast-growing meal-kit business. Subscribers will get a box shipped to their door with Stewart's recipes and all the ingredients needed to cook up the dishes at home, including pre-measured raw meat, fish, vegetables and spices.

"It is, I think, the way to cook for the future,'' Stewart said.

The new venture is a licensing deal with existing meal kit company Marley Spoon and brand management company Sequential Brands Group Inc., which bought Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia last year. Financial details of the new partnership were not disclosed.

Marley Spoon will be renamed Martha & Marley Spoon in the U.S. and will tap Stewart's library of thousands of recipes, including shrimp tortilla soup and chicken thighs pan-fried in coconut oil.

Ready-to-cook meal kits have proliferated in recent years and have been popular with city folk who want to skip the supermarket and still whip up a meal at home. People around the world spent $1.5 billion on meal kits last year, with less than half of that coming from the U.S., according to research group Technomic. The U.S. market is expected to grow to as much as $6 billion in the next four years, Technomic said.

Stewart joins other famous names in the space. TV chef Jamie Oliver appears in commercials for rival HelloFresh and cookbook author Mark Bittman joined vegan meal kit company Purple Carrot last year.

Competition has been heating up recently and Marley Spoon hopes adding Stewart's name will set it apart from Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Plated and many other companies that ship boxes of raw food.

Stewart said she tried all the rivals but was "hooked'' on Marley Spoon. She began talks with Marley Spoon about a deal eight months ago.

The kits may show up on Stewart's social media accounts, her magazines and TV shows.

"We have many ways to promote it,'' said Stewart, who is a chief creative officer of her brand and sits on Sequential's board of directors.

Martha & Marley Spoon kits start at $48 a week for two meals for two people and up to $140 a week for four meals for a family. Prep and cook time is less than 40 minutes, the company said.

Marley Spoon has been operating in the U.S. for a year and has been shipping meal kits in Europe and Australia for about 18 months. It ships in nearly 40 states. The company does not specify how many boxes it ships, but said it's in the millions annually. Blue Apron and HelloFresh have said they ship millions of boxes a month.

For now, Marley Spoon won't be adding Stewart's name to its international businesses, but it may in the future.

"We're starting now here in the U.S. because everybody knows Martha,'' said Marley Spoon CEO Fabian Siegel. "But why not, in the future, try it out somewhere else? I think that's something we'll look at.''

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