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Blue Apron reportedly puts IPO launch on hold

Blue Apron delivery service.
Source: Blue Apron
Blue Apron delivery service.

Those who hoped to purchase shares of Blue Apron may have to wait a bit longer.

The meal kit delivery service is reportedly putting its initial public offering on hold, according to Bloomberg.

Blue Apron has been toying with going public since June, going so far as begin talks with banks in September. However, the company is pushing back its IPO to focus on reducing the cost of customer acquisition and improving profit margins.

The meal-kit service raked in more than $800 million in revenue this year, but it's a challenging business and, according to Packaged Facts, the industry isn't actually profitable yet.

"Given the perishable nature of the products, this type of operation is complex and costly to run — especially so when you factor in the free delivery often offered," Conlumino retail analytics CEO Neil Saunders told CNBC back in November. "This is one of the reasons why the services are not very profitable. However, the providers are limited as to how far they can increase prices because consumers won't pay above a certain level per meal."

That headwind hasn't discouraged investment. More than $650 million in venture capital has been raised by meal kit delivery service start-ups, Packaged Facts reported in August.

The meal kit industry has exploded since 2012 — quickly becoming saturated with more than 150 companies competing nationally, regionally and locally, all fighting for their share of the $1.5 billion market.

The market is so competitive that consumers often don't stick around very long, preferring to test out several different options to see which service fits their lifestyle best — or to take advantage of promotions like free meals.

Only about 3 percent of U.S. consumers, or about 8 million adults, have tried meal kit services, according to a November report by the NPD Group. And half of those who tried it have already canceled their subscriptions.

Representatives from Blue Apron were not immediately available for comment.

Read the full report from Bloomberg.