“After experiencing firsthand the inefficiencies of traditional meal plan services, we have seen a clear possibility of disruption in bringing a complete transformation to a sector that is growing tremendously fast, introducing a brand-new concept,” Vincenzo Foglia, director of operations at SquarEat told FoodNavigator-USA.
Enter an initial selection of 15 squared foods – each individually vacuum-sealed in BPA-free, biodegradable bags – delivered weekly in compostable cardboard meal boxes with the tagline: “The meal plan from the future.”
The meal plan from the future
The two-inch squares are prepared and packaged at SquarEat headquarters in Miami Beach, a sleek and minimalist space complete with an access-restricted lab where raw ingredients are transformed through a proprietary process of thermal shocking, low-temperature cooking and vacuum sealing.
Foglia explains that the secret behind this “food of the future” is the square itself, which not only preserves nutrients for up to two weeks without additives but optimizes production, transportation and storage without sacrificing the quality or taste of the food. He clarifies that squares are not a meal replacement but rather “regular food” packaged for versatility, convenience and portion control.
“Some people have compared us to dystopian movies like Snowpiercer or Soylent Green,” he says as he sets out a sampling of squared chicken, salmon, quinoa, sweet potato, zucchini and asparagus with sides of soy-free teriyaki and herbed mayo in tidy packets. Squares have been unsealed, microwaved and pan seared with extra virgin olive oil for a “crunchy touch”.
“You may be skeptical at first, but we are sure about our product. We have been working on it for over two years.”
Subscribing to the square meal
During the 2020 lockdown, SquarEat CEO Paolo Cadegiani – a semi-professional athlete and personal trainer in Miami – worked with a chef in one of his brother’s Sapori Solari restaurants in Milan to standardize recipes and texture while the rest of the team structured the business back in the US.
Target consumers include athletes, students, busy parents or anyone wanting a balanced, flavorful diet without all the work, Foglia explains. He says that the palatable textures and easy-to-eat format also appeal to people with autism and food aversions.
The seven assorted meal boxes come in four- or six-square sizes with prices starting at $9.90 plus shipping for an American Meal Box of prime-cut beef, sweet potato, and broccoli and spinach squares. Subscribers can combine multiples of five meal boxes per weekly subscription and will soon be able to mix and match favorite squares with a “pick-your-own” menu.
“This is clearly not possible for a standard meal-plan business and opens up a market of a completely different size versus our current peers,” Foglia says. Future distribution channels will include gyms, offices, universities, supermarkets, airlines and next-generation vending machines.
After raising nearly $700,000 through its founding partners and crowdfunding, SquarEat launched its subscription service nationwide in December and plans to start its influencer-centric marketing campaign by the end of the month.