"Sun Basket is an industry leader in healthy-eating innovation, which is why expanding into meal occasions beyond dinner is a natural next step for us," said CEO and co-founder Adam Zbar in a statement.
Sun Basket's point of differentiation in the $3.1bn meal kit category (Packaged Facts' estimate) isn't just the convenience of having a fully planned out meal delivered to your door but advancing the concept of 'food as medicine' by offering customers meals that fit into 11 different nutritional profiles (e.g. paleo, gluten free, vegan, diabetes-friendly, heart healthy). Sun Basket emphasizes that it always uses organic produce and antibiotic-free, hormone-free meat and dairy products in all of its meals.
As Sun Basket has grown, boosted by multiple multi-million dollar fundraising rounds ($57.8m in January 2018 and $30m in May 2019), the company has steadily expanded its menu by adding new meal options for customers. With its latest $30m funding raise, Zbar said it would become a personalized, everyday "healthy eating platform."
"Sun Basket has grown rapidly over the last few years and we now serve over one million meals per month across the United States," Sun Basket chief marketing officer Jessica Jensen told FoodNavigator-USA.
Breakfast, lunch, and snack solutions
The new assortment of food options is already gaining traction with consumers looking for meal and snack solutions for all parts of the day, said Jensen.
"Like so many direct-to-consumer companies over the past few years, we made great use of Facebook and Instagram as marketing channels, and now we’re diversified into direct mail, affiliates, radio and podcasts. We’re working to reach ALL people in the US interested in healthy, delicious eating," said Jensen.
Sun Basket's expanded food offerings include easy breakfast, lunch, and snacks solutions including oatmeal, yogurt & granola, dips, fresh salads, soups, and noodle bowls that are ready to eat or just require a few minutes of prep. The company now offers fresh pasta and sauces as well as prepared meats, seafood, and plant-based protein.
"Our customers are loving these new product additions," noted Jensen.
"We are seeing great sell through with our existing customers on both Market and oven-ready dinners. It’s very clear that our customers want healthy solutions for breakfast, lunch, dinner and more," she said.
"Currently, we are selling our market offering as an add on to our dinners, but we are testing an a la carte option this fall."
According to Jensen, the 'add-on' prepared meat and plant-based options such as bacon wrapped filet mignon and tofu veggie burgers allows the company to meet different food preferences within families, a large part of its customer base and younger consumer who may not want to prepare an entire meal and would prefer something fast, easy, but still healthy.
"We see many different profiles -- young urban couples who are busy and want to make something healthy but fast. Also a lot of families with young kids who want delicious healthy meals... they can add extra meat and add-ons to feed different eaters at different ages," said Jensen.
All the items, approved and endorsed by Sun Basket's test kitchen team of chefs and dietitians, will rotate regularly to feature new brands.
Most of the new food options are non-GMO, organic, gluten-free and paleo, and all meats are antibiotic- and hormone-free, noted Sun Basket. To become one of Sun Basket's partner brands, Jensen added that the brand must meet the company taste, nutrition, and quality standards.
"We review each ingredient label against a list of 75+ unacceptable ingredients. We believe simple food is the best food, and we’re looking for a short list of clean ingredients," added Jensen.
Targeting corporate wellness market
As Sun Basket continues to add new food options beyond dinner, Jensen said that the company will also be expanding its distribution channels in oprder to reach more people in new quick and convenient ways.
"One way we’re expanding is integrating our offering into corporate wellness programs, because companies benefit by ensuring their employees eat healthy and Sun Basket is a perfect solution for them," Jensen said.