By Mario Toneguzzi
Chefs Plate, a national meal kit delivery company based in Toronto, has launched a 15-minute food solution for time-starved Canadians.
The company says the new kit is a first in Canada offering fresh, par-cooked and pre-cut ingredients while being guaranteed to get dinner on the table in 15 minutes or less. The convenient 15-minute meal kit targets the home meal replacement segment valued at $4 billion.
Jamie Shea, co-founder and CEO of Chefs Plate which started operations in the fall of 2014, says the company today delivers more than 450,000 meals per month across the country with more than 76,000 active customers.
The company has been seeing consistent double-digit, week-over-week growth since it has launched the business. When the business started, it was just three people basically sitting in an office and now it has more than 400 people working for the company.
“We deliver consumers all the fresh, pre-portioned ingredients they need to cook a chef-inspired meal at home,” says Shea. “All the ingredients are pre-portioned. They come with easy-to-follow, step-by-step recipe cards. It’s all fresh ingredients.
“If you look at some of the macro retail trends over the last several years, you’re obviously seeing a big emergence in the online space where a lot of the traditional retail categories . . . have undergone a transition where part of that business is done online now. What we haven’t seen here in Canada is of the $90 billion grocery market less than one per cent of sales are done online. So we see a big opportunity as food really being that final traditional retail category that’s making the transition to online.”
All meal purchases are done online and insulated boxes are shipped directly to consumer doors. Each week Chefs Plate introduces 14 new recipes for customers. All the ingredients to cook a meal are included in the meal kit. There is a two-person plan and a family plan for up to four people. Meals are delivered directly to people’s doors on the day that works best for them. The average cost per serving is about $10 including shipping.
Shea says all the food is fresh for up to seven days from when a customer orders online. Customers are asked to place their orders online four days in advance.
Meal kits are shipped across the country from centres in Toronto and Abbotsford, B.C.
“A big part of our business is we focus on providing local Canadian products and because we’re a national company we’re able to really tap into all the different provinces for what they do best,” says Shea. “So for example we pull a lot of dairy and cheese out of Quebec. The Prairies are naturally where we pull a lot of our beef products as well as root vegetables. B.C. and Ontario we tap into the greenhouse infrastructure that they have there and Atlantic Canada is where a lot of our seafood comes from. It’s really exciting that we can truly bring this farm-to-table experience to consumers.”
Shea says that typically Chefs Plate recipes have taken about 20 to 30 minutes to cook.
“With this product line that we’ve introduced we’re really going after those customers that are shopping in the home meal replacement category so that’s really getting from basically kit to table in 15 minutes. We spent 15 months developing this line and we’re really happy to introduce it. We started testing earlier this year and seeing a tremendous response from our customers. We’ve been able to find an offering that’s even more convenient,” he says.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.