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Subscription meal plan demand drives up competition in capital

Tom Starkey / Khmer Times Share:
A batch of ready-cooked meals are portioned up to be delivered as part of a client’s weekly meal subscription. Nom Nom

Motivated by healthy habits, digital convenience and the pandemic, people are going one step further than ordering in the odd meal, opting instead for subscriptions to a full week of food delivery services. It’s a model proving to be a magic recipe for customers and businesses alike.

In Cambodia, this has resulted in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) cooking up their own meal-plan unique selling points, offering everything from skinny subscription options for weight watchers to protein packed meaty menus for muscle builders. The cooked meals are delivered both morning and at night.

Globally, a report by analyst site UnivDatos Market Insights (UMI) said the subscription e-commerce market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 68 percent between 2019 to 2025, reaching $478.2 billion by 2025.

It said over the last few years in particular, the subscription e-commerce market has grown enormously, registering a growth of nearly 100 percent in some regions. “Today, consumers are demanding products and services that are customised, seamless and flexible. A subscription e-commerce model allows the subscription services to meet different customer criteria. According to the estimates, 75 percent of direct-to-customer businesses will offer subscription services by 2023,” it added.

As the Kingdom continues to embrace digital, meal plan delivery businesses are one such service spurring the subscription market.

“When we opened two years ago, we chose this format because we saw the trend in other countries that we couldn’t find here,” said food delivery service Nom Nom, which cooks and delivers a customisable vegetarian and meat menues weekly for subscribers. “In Cambodia, fast food and junk food is so easy to get and it’s very affordable, so we saw a gap in the market to offer healthy and convenient food for people who have a busy and active lifestyle. It’s convenient for them and for us,” said Marnix Gerits, co-founder of Nom Nom.    “The great thing is we don’t have the overheads of a restaurant and the business is very scalable. The corporate market and fitness markets are growing and we are able to grow with them. Not having to build a brick and mortar establishment means we can offer cheap, healthy meals to our customers.”

E-commerce company Shopify said subscription-based business models enable companies to save money on customer targeting and acquisition, passing cost savings in distribution, marketing and personalisation on to their customers. “This provides value to the customer and incredible growth opportunities for businesses,” it noted.

Sokim Heng, co-owner of meal-delivery company Bite Lab, also currently offers healthy meal delivery plans. However, he is looking to expand the service as part of a broader fitness brand.

“We aim to provide more than just a meal subscription. We consult on clients’ eating habits and advise a food plan, design it around their nutritional needs and set goals. Our vision is to create a fitness community lifestyle. We keep in touch with our clients and track progress together,” he said.

“We are currently in our initial phase of building our healthy eating and goal-orientated community. Phase two will involve introducing a mobile app to improve our fitness-related content and reach a wider audience. In phase three we will look at providing  branded sportswear for our fitness community, to create a sense of identity and, in the final phase, we would love to carry out events in different locations through the year to further strengthen our community,” he added.

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