Chef’d has a different recipe for growing its meal kit business
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.
With consumer behavior in grocery increasingly shifting from ingredient purchasing to meal purchasing, Chef’d is working with major brands, including Nestle and Coca-Cola as well as retailers, to serve as the “buy button” for recipe kits on their websites.
A big difference between some other meal kit delivery companies such as Blue Apron and HelloFresh is that Chef’d doesn’t rely on subscriptions. It instead allows consumers to order whenever they want and whatever they want from a selection of about 1,000 breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Also, the food delivery startup spends relatively little marketing its product, letting its relationships with big CPG and retailer partners create awareness for Chef’d.
“We develop recipes with these companies. Where they’re able to merchandise those recipes and conduct e-commerce on their own websites, they transfer fulfillment data to Chef’d’s back end, where we’re the fulfillment engine,” Sean Butler, retail director for Chef’d, told CPGmatters.
Chef’d has also collected $35 million in investments from Campbell Soup and Smithfield Foods, each of which also has an executive on Chef’d’s board.
Smithfield’s partnership is considered strategic. Chef’d gains access to Smithfield’s product development and sourcing capabilities and leverages Smithfield’s national distribution network and facilities.
Chef’d’s focus with Campbell, in contrast, is in e-commerce. Consumers can “sample new [Campbell] ingredients in our existing recipes, and we create a full feedback loop where we’re collecting information [for Campbell] through our surveys and other ongoing relationships we have with our customers,” said Mr. Butler.
For retailer partners, “We just handle it on the back end. They handle the credit card data management, and we’re able to extend their brand equity all the way on the journey to the consumer by shipping these products in co-branded boxes.”
Enhancing all these efforts, Chef’d’s patent-pending packaging system provides 16 days of life after the point of putting together the recipe, compared to the usual eight days.
“The Chef’d brand is all about freshness and quality,” Mr. Butler said. “It’s not about telling the story of a golden-beet farmer somewhere in the Central Valley of California. That’s not what we do. We deliver the highest-quality product and ingredients fresher than anyone else.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should brands and retailers outsource meal kit initiatives or build them in-house? What do you see as the challenges for each side?