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Blue Apron CEO Matt Salzberg: We’re not Amazon-Whole Foods, and we’re not trying to be

Salzberg sounds an optimistic note even after Amazon’s big buy of Whole Foods.

Blue Apron CEO Matt Salzberg onstage at Code Commerce
Blue Apron CEO Matt Salzberg
Keith MacDonald

Blue Apron CEO Matt Salzberg got a call “a little bit before everyone else” about Amazon’s announcement this June that it would buy Whole Foods.

Since then, it’s been a tough few months for the meals-on-demand company, which began trading publicly and immediately had to weather questions as to whether it’s bound to lose big to Amazon’s new grocery gambit. But Salzberg is optimistic: “In some ways, it’s applicable to our space; and in some ways, obviously, what they’re doing, it’s much different than what we’re doing,” he said onstage at Code Commerce today.

“So you know it was interesting timing, as it related to our IPO for sure, but it didn’t change, obviously, our business strategy,” he continued, “and in terms of what we focus on as a company.”

For one thing, Salzberg stressed brands like his still matter, especially in food, “where trust and quality” are what drive how consumers shop and eat. “It’s crazy to think people are all going to get their food in the same way or consume one brand of food for everything they eat all day long,” he said.

Beyond that, though, Salzberg said Blue Apron does more than just deliver meals on a weekly basis to those subscribing to the service. That includes some a la carte offerings, like cooking supplies, and retail partnerships, including sale of its cookbooks in retail stores.

“We’re not going to go and be a head-to-head mass-market grocer like Amazon and Whole Foods are trying to be,” he said. “We don’t want to be everything to everybody. We are a curated brand with a point of view on home cooking ... and that lifestyle that surrounds that.”

“We’re going after a gigantic, gigantic market opportunity, and we think we’re in the very earliest innings of a gigantic transformation of the offline food industry,” he later added.

Watch his full interview from Code Commerce below.

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