Shares of Blue Apron (APRN - Free Report) fell 9% in morning trading on Monday after news broke that Amazon.com (AMZN - Free Report) has registered a trademark in the US for a meal-kit business. The filing from July 6 says the trademark covers "prepared food kits", signaling that Amazon has its sights on the fast-growing market dominated by Blue Apron.
Amazon has registered a trademark in the USA for a service described as: "We do the prep. You be the chef".
The food kits will contain "frozen, prepared, and packaged meals", with "meat, poultry, fish, seafood, fruit and/or vegetables and also including sauces or seasonings, ready for cooking and assembly as a meal".
Amazon already sells other companies' meal kits, including Tyson Foods Inc.'s (TSN) Tyson Tastemakers. Blue Apron happens to be one of those services.
As of reporting the news, Amazon's stock continues to rise and Blue Apron's is seeing a notable drop off.
"If Amazon wants to do meal kits, Amazon will do meal kits", said Mark Bittman, who's served as a consultant to activist investor Jana Partners on Whole Foods, recently told CNBC. Blue Apron is structured as a subscription service in which users get a set number of meal kit boxes per week, whereas meal kits on Amazon Fresh appear to be one-off purchases. The company went public June 29 with an IPO that priced at $10 a share, less than the company initially expected, and its stock has fallen further since then.
Last week, the top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives' antitrust subcommittee, David Cicilline, voiced concerns about Amazon's plan to buy Whole Foods, pushing for a hearing to look into the deal's impact on consumers.
Less than two months removed from acquiring natural foods icon Whole Foods, Amazon applied for a trademark that could spell disaster for brick-and-mortar grocery.
It may be some time before we see Amazon-branded meal kits online, but the competition is already feeling the heat.