FreshRealm: ‘We want to be the intel inside of the prepared perishables industry’

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: FreshRealm
Picture: FreshRealm

Related tags Meal kit Food

Setting up a fresh food ecommerce operation from scratch is not for the faint hearted, as the eye-watering sums spent by some meal-kit/meal delivery brands have proved. But for retailers, lifestyle brands, CPG brands or others interested in a slice of the action, why reinvent the wheel when there are already potential partners out there with the infrastructure to fulfil complex fresh food orders, leaving you to focus on acquiring and keeping customers and building a brand?

This, in a nutshell, is what FreshRealm​ is all about, says founder Michael Lippold, who has already teamed up with Weight Watchers​ to build a fresh prepared meals home delivery service and partnered with Terra’s Kitchen​ to build a meal kit platform, whereby FreshRealm takes care of ingredient sourcing, preparation and order fulfilment, and its partners focus on their customers.

We’re a platform for fresh prepped perishables

He added: “We’re a platform for fresh prepped perishablesand our business model is well suited for enabling a wide variety of partners — both eCommerce and brick and mortar —  from national grocers to big box retailers, and meal kit/meal delivery services…

“We’re mainly focused on those types of partners to date, but really, our technology, infrastructure, expertise and scale make FreshRealm a good partner to forward-thinking companies that are positioning themselves for the shift in how consumers approach how they purchase food and get meals on the table,” ​added Lippold, ​who previously worked as director of strategic development at fresh produce supplier Calavo Growers, which has a 46% stake in FreshRealm.

“I think if you look at meal kits and prepared meal delivery, what’s out there is now is version 1.0. We’re building version 2.0.”

Meal delivery v.2.0

Launched in 2013, FreshRealm​ fulfils orders from facilities in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Indianapolis and New Jersey co-located with Calavo’s subsidiary, Renaissance Food Group, a supplier of fresh prepared fruits and vegetables, and prepared foods, from salsas, dips and spreads to pastas and entrée salads, wraps and pizza, explained Lippold.

Wight Watchers Fresh
Weight Watchers prepared meals by FreshRealm

“There are two ways that partners can use our platform. The merchant segment is where we provide an end to end solution for someone like Terra’s Kitchen or Weights Watchers to leverage our platform and offer prepped perishables delivered directly to end consumers’ doorsteps. We provide the supply, the logistics, the fulfilment, and all the technology to enable them to do that.

“Second, we offer and end to end solution for large retailers to offer prepped meal kits at big grocery store shelves.

“I think that a lot of meal kit/delivery businesses didn’t spend enough time working on the back end IT infrastructure to make their operations scalable as they were spending so much money on customer acquisition and front-end e-commerce and digital marketing, whereas we specialize in the back end,” ​said Lippold.

Indeed, FreshRealm had initially developed its own meal kit business under the FreshRealm brand​ as a proof of concept, but is retiring this later this month in order to focus on its b2b business, which ultimately has greater potential, he said.

Renaissance Food Group has been doing this​ [making fresh foods to order] for 20 years. We’re not pulling from inventory. Our core competency is prepped perishables, made to order, so everything we do is pulled by the customer. It’s not digital marketing and brand building.”

Technology is at the heart of everything we do

Meal kits or prepared meals supplied by FreshRealm come in the FreshPorter, a climate-controlled, reusable shipping container

One obvious difference between FreshRealm's meal kit offering vs the competitive set is that the meal components can be delivered to consumers’ doors in climate-controlled, reusable shipping containers (the FreshPorter), which are collected, sanitized and re-used, eliminating the mounds of packaging waste associated with rival offerings.

The other major difference is that end users have significantly more choice, while the meals also feature pre-prepped ingredients such that they can be prepared in less than 25 minutes, something partner Terra’s Kitchen says has been a key differentiator (click HERE​).

“From cutting a bell pepper to the end of its life you only have eight days, so you need to get it through the supply chain very fast in a profitable way," ​said Lippold. "This is our core competency; technology is at the heart of everything we do.”

What's for dinner tonight?

Interested in navigating the direct to consumer meal kit/delivery space? And what about healthy vending?

Checkout our awesome line up of speakers at FOOD VISION USA 2017​ ​, featuring execs from Chef'd, Terra's Kitchen, Sun Basket, PeaPod and Farmer's Fridge.

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