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Ready-to-cook meals from Amazon in bid to expand groceries

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Amazon has lowered its free shipping minimum for non-Prime members to $35 -- a nearly 29% drop. The company increased its free shipping threshold to $49 from $35 almost in 2016.

NEW YORK — Amazon has begun selling ready-to-cook meal packages for busy households in a bid to expand its groceries business.

Amazon-branded meal kits come with raw ingredients needed to prepare such meals as chicken tikka masala and falafel patties. They are currently sold only in selected markets, including Amazon’s headquarters of Seattle. Prices are generally $16 to $20 for two servings.

The development comes as Amazon is also buying the organic grocer Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.

Sales of Amazon’s meal kits appeared to have begun in late June, based on customer reviews. Earlier this month, Amazon applied for U.S. trademark protection for the phrase “We do the prep. You be the chef.”

Shares of a leading competitor, Blue Apron, fell 14 percent this week as reports of Amazon’s plans emerged.