Blue Apron laying off 450 employees at Arlington center

As profits continue to drop, meal subscription service "Blue Apron" is laying off hundreds of employees at the company's Arlington fulfillment center.

The company says it notified more than 450 Arlington workers that production schedules will change April 1.

The move comes as dozens of so-called "virtual kitchens" continue to cook up ways to entice busy consumers to buy into the concept.

For busy people on the go, every minute counts. That's why, come dinner time, a growing number of consumers prefer to pull out their wallet instead of the frying pan.

Jason Vercher is a medical professional who works long hours. He's a fan of meal delivery companies like Snap who make his food for him.

“It's nice to be able to go home throw something in the microwave, wash it out, put it in the recycle bin and not have to think about it,” he said.

And he's not alone. According to public data, roughly 27 percent of Americans have used a meal delivery program since its introduction in 2012.

SMU Cox marketing professor Ed Fox says there's definitely a market for these companies. The key to long-term success is figuring out exactly what the consumer needs.

“There's a lot of firms that have a footprint in the market and are going quickly,” he said.

In 2017, Austin-based "My Fit Foods" abruptly closed all of its stores after more than a decade in the market.

Last Wednesday, Blue Apron announced it was laying off hundreds of workers at its Arlington fulfillment center as profits continue to dwindle. Blue Apron provides the ingredients, but the consumer still has to cook.

“So you're spending the time cooking but not the time shopping,” Fox said. “And I'm not sure that's a big slice of the market.”

Fox says Amazon Pantry could eventually take a large slice of the pie and able to offer consumers prepared meals at a cheaper price.

Vercher is open to new options as long as meals are cooked and ready to eat,” he said.

“It's fairly affordable. You get a discount when you subscribe to meal plans. So, for me, it's definitely an ongoing option.”