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Jul 16, 2019

Blue Apron surges after partnering with high-flying Beyond Meat

The Blue Apron logo is pictured ahead of the company's IPO on the New York Stock Exchange

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Blue Apron Holdings Inc. (APRN.N) rallied the most since going public two years ago after announcing a tie-up with a hot brand: Beyond Meat Inc (BYND.O).

The struggling meal-kit company will begin introducing products from the alternative-meat startup on its menus in August, New York-based Blue Apron said in a statement. The shares rose as much as 78 per cent on Tuesday, their biggest intraday gain since the stock debuted in June 2017.

The partnership may breathe some fresh life into Blue Apron, whose stock has plummeted more than 90 per cent since its initial public offering turned out to be one of the worst-performing in recent history. Meanwhile, Beyond Meat shares have gained almost seven-fold since their May debut as faux meat has taken off across restaurant and fast-food chains. Beyond Meat extended those gains Tuesday, adding as much as 4.9 per cent.

Blue Apron’s struggles stem from the meal-kit industry’s challenges attracting and retaining customers. Although subscriptions were originally marketed to people who wanted to cook but didn’t know what or how, it was soon beset with complaints: The meals were too expensive, you had to plan ahead, and people felt guilty throwing away all the packaging required to keep ingredients fresh. The nascent meal-kit industry found luring and retaining customers required margin-eating discounts and often didn’t work.

In a bid to reinvigorate growth, Blue Apron got inside brick and mortar retail, but Costco Wholesale Corp. ultimately dropped the meal-kit boxes to make space for seasonal products.

Blue Apron and Beyond Meat are both popular targets for short sellers. Short interest accounts for about 28.5 per cent of Blue Apron’s float and almost 45 per cent of the Beyond Meat shares available for trading, according to data compiled by financial analytics firm S3 Partners.