Why go to the Swedish meatballs when they can come to you?

By Tim Nelson
June 21, 2019
EMMANUEL DUNAND/Getty Images

Anyone who’s navigated the labyrinthine layout of an Ikea knows that it’s more than just a place to buy hard-to-assemble furniture that will break down by the next time you move. They’ve also got something of a thriving restaurant business going. In fact, they claim to be the sixth-largest food chain in the world, though it’s not entirely clear how they arrived at that determination.

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And in an attempt to leverage that market power, it sounds like Ikea is about to deliver you a dresser with a side of (potentially plant-based) Swedish meatballs. Recently, the company confirmed to Fast Company that they are in the process of testing home food deliveries in Paris. In this case, that means Parisians can try what Ikea seems to be calling its “Swedish foods,” including salmon, beets, cabbage and the like.

For now, any real details about the logistics of the operation are limited. The food will be delivered from Ikea’s Paris location rather than a dedicated off-site kitchen. It’s unclear if the menu items Ikea has selected are prepared in ready-to-eat fashion, or if they’re just simply shipping out cold or frozen premade options.

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Still, it seems like a logical next step given other recent moves concerning how Ikea handles both the furniture and food sides of its business. The Swedish company has concentrated its expansion efforts on smaller “Planning Studio” stores located in major urban centers closer to its millennial customers, locations which eschew Ikea’s traditional warehouse model in favor of a showroom/home delivery arrangement. They’ve also continued to innovate with their food, focusing on sustainability and plant-based food concepts. Taken altogether, it’d be surprising if Ikea didn’t try out food delivery given the infrastructure in place.

But will consuming Ikea’s array of meatballs and other Swedish treats in a place where you haven’t just spent hundreds of dollars on furniture have the same appeal? As it is, dining at Ikea is a nice break—a fika, as the Swedes might say—from what can be a lengthy day of shopping in a self-contained environment. Does that same food really stack up against the plethora of delivery competitors who will be just a few taps away?

Well, don’t expect any answers on that for a while. An Ikea spokesperson told Fast Company that they are “very early in the process” when it comes to getting all this delivery stuff sorted out. Still you’ve gotta bet there are some people out there who are relieved they’ll no longer have to venture out to a furniture store for lunch.

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