Just Add Cooking meal kit sets itself apart with hyper-local mode: ‘We’re local and we don’t intend to go national’

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Just Add Cooking is on track to crack $1.7m in sales by the end of 2018, says its founder.
Just Add Cooking is on track to crack $1.7m in sales by the end of 2018, says its founder.

Related tags: Meal kits, Investment

Just Add Cooking (JAC), a meal kit company founded in Boston in 2013, is looking for an extra boost of funding launching a WeFunder campaign with a $300,000 fundraising goal.

JAC sources all the food that goes into its kits from the New England area and gives consumers an ‘a la carte’ option where they can add on locally-made goods to further customize their orders.

“We want to make getting healthy, convenient dinner meals made from local ingredients on the table more than an aspirational concept,” ​JAC founder and president, Jan Leife, said in a letter to potential investors.

“We’re making it realistic for consumers to eat local ingredients in a way that’s sustainable and accessible, while also nourishing their local community by supporting the farmers, artisans and fishermen right where they live.”

JAC customers have the option to buy a traditional meal kit online, delivered to their door, featuring local ingredients with the option to add other local products to their delivery through the company’s online ‘marketplace’ (such as snacks, breakfast foods, etc.), or they can buy a retail meal kit in a local grocery store to cook immediately.

Outperforming industry standard, says founder

But do American consumers, in this case New England dwellers, need another meal kit option to choose from?

According Leife, JAC “outperforms national meal kits in retention, order frequency, and average first-year customer spend."

While working off a small consumer base (700 subscribers), the average order value for JAC is $92 with a 26% customer retention rate (compared to the industry average of 13%, according to Leife) and an average yearly spend of $1,862 per customer in the first year using the service, the company claimed.

Compared to last year, JAC sales are up 19%, putting the company on track to reach $1.7m if it accomplishes the same sales volume in Q4 2018 as it did in Q4 2017.

Staying local in the Northeast region

For JAC, the intention is stay local while other players have their eye on national distribution. Within the $2.2bn meal kit market, there’s room for a local brand, the company said.

“Meal kits have taken off in the last several years, but national brands are struggling,”​ Leife said.

Earlier this year, Chef’d shut down operations​, ​later being acquired by HPP specialist firm​ True Family Enterprises. ​In addition​Blue Apron has seen its share price decrease from $10 a share when it went public public June 30, 2017 to hovering around $1.34 per share currently. 

“Just Add Cooking is different," ​said Leife. W"e're local and don't intend to go national – by keeping our operations focused in the Northeast, we're building a truly local food economy between our customers, farmers, and distributors.”

However, taking a cue from other national meal kits providers, JAC recognizes that subscriptions aren’t for every consumer, and has plans to expand into grocery stores (it is currently in 13 Roche Brothers Massachusetts stores).

“We’ve been approached by several retail chains in the Northeast. Verbal agreement for a pilot in a number of convenience stores,”​ the company said.

According to the company, it is in the process to hiring a new fulfilment partner to better support its Northeast distribution and improve local sourcing.

By the end of 2018, the company plans to introduce a “second-generation highly personalized meal solution tailored to individual customer needs powered by AI.

“A service like ours makes it dead simple for customers to support the local food economy and serve their family the freshest local food,”​ Leife said.

“We realized that our best bet for making a positive impact on sustainability and the local food economy was making it easy for customers to access local ingredients. And we are in a unique position to do so, with supplier relationships and logistics that enable us to deliver fresh food sustainably and quickly.”

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