Additional investors who contributed to the round include Upfront Ventures, Lewis & Clark Ventures, DF Enterprises, S2G Ventures (Beyond Meat, Sweetgreen), Gaingels (New Wave Foods, Recess), Middleland Capital, Motley Fool Ventures, Finistere Ventures (GoodEggs), and Rethink Food Capital, as well as athletes Abby Wambach and Vernon Davis.
The latest funding round brings the company’s total funding to $44m (the most venture funding raised by a female-led company in the ready-to-eat food category).
Territory Foods CEO Ellis McCue shared that although the market has become crowded with DTC meal delivery services – many of which promise convenience and healthy meal options – the company is constantly adapting its menu to provide an experience that’s tailored to a customer’s nutrition needs and flavor preferences.
“Territory uses 90k points of customer data on taste, proteins, flavors, and health and wellness trends to design our menu of over 300 meals. Then, we rotate them weekly so that our customers never get bored,” McCue told FoodNavigator-USA.
“We are always improving, experimenting and collecting customer feedback so we can evolve as health, wellness and culinary trends change.”
McCue said the company plans to use the recent round of funding to serve more customers across the US. The company will also seek to add more chefs to its network to create new menu options for its customers, and gather more insights around new consumer habits, functional ingredients, culinary styles, and wellness trends, she said.
Balancing taste and nutrition
“Many people have complicated relationships to ‘eating healthy,’ and we know it can be intimidating. That’s why we want to empower everyone with personalized nutrition,” said McCue.
McCue said that the company is transparent with the ingredients and health attributes for each of its meals – which are designed by dietitians, nutritionists with the culinary oversight of chefs – by prominently displaying calories, fat, protein, and carbs content to the customer before they complete their purchase. Each meal is also free-from refined sugars, gluten, and dairy.
“We are the only place where you can customize your menu not only on health preferences, but on specific flavor profiles unique to you,” notes McCue.
Decentralized DTC model
Territory Foods has taken the approach of partnering with local chefs in communities through its decentralized, back-end marketplace that services 20 major markets along the East Coast from Maine to Miami to Texas, Chicago, and California.
The meals are made by a team of local, independent chefs (with nutritionist input) who create meals in commercial kitchens and restaurants in each of the local markets Territory Foods serves.
When ordering on the Territory Foods website, customers can choose between different plans (10 or 18 meals per week, or a ‘flex’ plan option) delivered once or twice weekly. The company also offers customers two different portion sizes: standard (400-650 calories per serving) or a ‘boost’ size (250-450 calories per meal), a differentiator in the meal delivery category, said McCue.
“We are the only service that offers two sizes - something that seems small but is a huge benefit to customers. And for us, the user experience goes all the way to your doorstep. We want to make sure you always have a great experience with us, and that you can rely on us to support you in your goals each week,” said McCue.
Meals are delivered to directly to consumers packed with ice to keep the product chilled for up to 24 hours before unpacking. Meals don't require any heating or cooking and are designed to be consumed chilled.
‘Territory customers are incredibly loyal’
In terms of how the company stacks up against its competitors in the meal delivery service market, McCue noted that Territory Foods’ product, technology, and service offerings has created an “incredibly loyal” customer base that keeps coming back with reorders.
“We have industry leading retention - about 2x than our category average, and over 80% of our weekly customers have purchased more than six times,” she said.
Territory Foods growth has also been positively impacted by consumers’ evolving relationship with food over the past year.
“More than ever, we saw an elevated focus in health and the idea of eating more to boost your immunity, and we worked with leading industry medical experts to bring that education and content to our community,” said McCue.
And even though consumers may be cooking more or theoretically have the time to create sourdough from scratch or crack open a cookbook, there will always be a need for ready-to-eat meals that deliver on an individual’s personal nutrition needs and health goals.
“Consumers are cooking more, but for our community, those are times when they choose to cook and choose to do so for enjoyment, not strictly out of necessity,” said McCue.
“They look to us to shoulder the additional responsibility of more meals at home and to add more variety and flavor profiles to the daily mix.”