Amazon is already web's largest retailer, and having mastered the digital sale and delivery of everything from audio books to baby wipes, it was only a matter of time before the company tackled ready-to-eat meals, too. As reported by Reuters, the ecommerce giant is hard at work on a system that would allow it to provide fully pre-cooked meals to customers without the need for expensive and complicated refrigeration requirements.
The report is sourced from a startup that is pitching the technology, and alleges that Amazon is already working out the logistics of how it would market and distribute pre-cooked meals to customers using its existing warehouse structure. The plans could get off the ground as soon as 2018.
If the company does indeed plan on adopting this approach, Amazon's ready-to-eat meals would be made possible by preservation technology originally pioneered by the military to provide food for troops. Called microwave-assisted thermal sterilization, the system uses microwaves to eliminate bacteria while also sealing the meal to prevent any contamination. Thanks to this combination of cleanliness and preservation, the meals can remain viable for up to 12 months before spoiling.
Such a product offering would put Amazon in a heated battle with other meal delivery services like Blue Apron and Plated. Those services provide mail-order meal packages that include all the ingredients needed to prepare a meal, but still require the customer to actually do the preparation and cooking. Cutting out those steps with completely pre-cooked meals which require just reheating would seemingly fit perfectly with Amazon's convenience-above-all-else approach, but it remains to be seen whether customers would be comfortable with such non-refrigerated meal packages.