Freshly launches plant-based meals

Dive Brief:

  • Meal delivery firm Freshly has launched its first line of plant-based meals. 
  • The Purely Plant line features six options, including a burger with sticky carrot jam and sautéed vegetables; a salsa verde burrito; an Indian-spiced chickpea curry bowl with basmati rice, lentils and vegetables; and baked pasta with cashew cheese and vegetables. 
  • Purely Plant adds to the subscription meal delivery service’s menu options and taps into growing consumer demand for meat substitutes. 

Dive Insight:

The Purely Plant line stems from Freshly’s acquisition by Nestlé late last year. The meal-delivery company had been eyeing plant-based selections going back to 2017 and started working on plant-based meals pre-acquisition, but Nestlé’s R&D capabilities coupled with its knowledge of plant-based proteins propelled the product launch, said co-founder and CEO Mike Wystrach.

“[The line] was something our team was really excited [about] as we started thinking about synergistic opportunities in areas that we can really leverage” with Nestlé, he said. 

With Freshly’s focus on healthy meals — the company has a list of more than 80 banned ingredients — working on plant-based proteins that meet its requirements for clean ingredients proved challenging.

“We’ve been wanting to play in the space for a long time, but because of our constraints, a lot of the alternative proteins that are out there don’t really meet our [ingredient requirements] because they’re very processed … As different players have moved in, there’s some products that are … really healthy and there’s some that have a lot of additives and preservatives,” Wystrach said. 

Taste was also a major hurdle for Freshly when developing Purely Plant, especially with creating meals intended to retain their flavor up to seven days in customers’ refrigerators, Wystrach said. With Nestlé’s resources, Wystrach estimated Freshly shaved six months to a year off of Purely Plant’s debut. 

Courtesy of Freshly

 

The Purely Plant meals will be available as part of Freshly’s four-, six-, eight-, 10- and 12-meal plans and priced the same as the non-premium meals under those plans, with the 12-meal option costing $8.49 per meal, according to the press release.

As it brings out the new meals, Freshly is introducing its own proprietary plant protein blends, like its signature Rainbow Harvest Plant-Based Burger. In addition, Wystrach said Freshly expects to continue developing the new product line during the next few months and is considering altering the lineup, adding that customer input will drive the evolution of the line.

The line comes at a time when consumer interest in plant-based food is booming. In the meal delivery space, the options for plant-based options are growing, with plant-focused companies like Purple Carrot, Daily Harvest, Veestro and Mosaic Foods vying for customers. Meanwhile, Blue Apron offers vegetarian options and HelloFresh has plant-based options, including its Green Chef and Factor75 lines. 

Freshly noted in its announcement that 65% of its customers self-identify as flexitarians. The plant-based line is a way to further appeal to those customers along with tapping into the growing plant-based food market, which was worth $7 billion in 2020 and posted 27% growth that year. 

Expanding menu variety for customers has been a top priority for Freshly in recent months. Earlier this year, the company rolled out multiserve proteins and sides and also limited-edition dinners from celebrity chefs. In December, Freshly launched a lower-carb product line. 

Freshly is “actively pursuing” snacks, dessert and breakfast — all items it currently does not offer, Wystrach said, declining to provide more specifics on the company’s plans for new meal formats and options for more dayparts.

Additionally, Freshly is working to slash its shipping times and grow its number of facilities as makers of meal kits and prepared meals ramp up efforts to boost loyalty among consumers, according to Wystrach. Freshly has already cut down its average time for customers to receive orders to six days from 12 in the fall, with the goal of achieving next-day delivery, he said.

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