The meal-kit model

Idealog - - EXPORT GUIDE -

Take the Have­lock North Fruit Com­pany, which is cap­i­tal­is­ing on the fact that glob­ally con­sumers say that their favourite snack food is fresh fruit (18%), with choco­late as a close sec­ond (15%).

HNFC has de­vel­oped Rockit – a new va­ri­ety of ap­ple, which is not much big­ger than a golf ball, a uni­formly red colour, and sold ready-to- eat in a clear plas­tic tube.

The com­pany sup­plies Rockit ap­ples to 29 coun­tries, in­clud­ing the US, China, Canada, Italy, the Mid­dle East and Tai­wan. It also sup­plies the prom­i­nent UK depart­ment store Marks & Spencer’s.

Rockit founder Phil Ali­son says the com­pany has no­ticed a dra­matic growth glob­ally in the con­sump­tion and de­mand for healthy snacks.

“There has been an equal in­crease in peo­ple’s aware­ness as to what con­sti­tutes healthy eat­ing and so- called healthy snacks [and what doesn’t]. In par­tic­u­lar, muesli bars and pro­cessed foods with many preser­va­tives and ad­di­tives are un­der the spot­light.”

Snacks with all nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents are rated very im­por­tant by 45% of those sur­veyed in the Nielsen re­port. Con­sumers don’t want ar­ti­fi­cial flavours or colours (42%-44%) or ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied or­gan­isms (43%), and are also look­ing for caf­feine-free (23%) and gluten-free (19%).

Ali­son says Rockit ap­ples sell for “a sig­nif­i­cant premium” over a stan­dard ap­ple and the com­pany is break­ing in to new mar­ket seg­ments daily, in­clud­ing food ser­vice, vend­ing, and cor­po­rate ser­vices.

“We po­si­tion it as a ‘high end snack’ prod­uct, tar­geted at health con­scious con­sumers who want healthy snacks re­plac­ing pro­cessed foods.

The keys to the com­pany’s high de­gree of suc­cess in­clude prod­uct dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion, strate­gic think­ing, mar­ket knowl­edge, good sup­ply chains, hard work, luck – and quite a lot of money, Ali­son says.

Hav­ing bought the rights to the small ap­ple in 2010, Ali­son raised $17 mil­lion in 2012, mainly from an­gel in­vestors, to boost pro­duc­tion.

At the time, Ali­son had three hectares of land pro­duc­ing his ap­ples; th­ese days the com­pany has 160 hectares pro­duc­ing fruit in New Zealand, 120 hectares un­der cul­ti­va­tion (where the trees are grow­ing, but aren’t pro­duc­ing fruit yet), and more plant­ings planned, and fur­ther de­vel­op­ments planned. The com­pany has 31 li­censees and about 1.3 mil­lion planted trees, in­clud­ing many in the North­ern Hemi­sphere, mean­ing Rockit ap­ples will be avail­able glob­ally all year round. Mean­while, healthy meal de­liv­ery ser­vices are flour­ish­ing. The meal-kit model, in par­tic­u­lar, is prov­ing pop­u­lar, where you pay for a box of food that ar­rives at your doorstep with pre-picked in­gre­di­ents and recipes for ev­ery meal. You don’t have to shop or think about what you are go­ing to have for din­ner.

It’s early days for this sec­tor and it’s hard to say how big it will get. The food industry firm Tech­nomic pre­dicts the meal-kit ser­vice seg­ment will grow to be­tween US$3 bil­lion and $5 bil­lion dur­ing the next ten years, based on cur­rent adop­tion rates.

In the US, the most widely used ser­vices are Blue Apron, which launched in 2012, raised $US58 mil­lion and de­liv­ers more than two mil­lion meals a month, and Plated, launched the same year, raised $21.6m and claims to be do­ing twice Blue Apron’s num­ber.

Auck­land-based My Food Bag, co-founded by former Telecom CEO Theresa Gat­tung, chaired by Saatchi & Saatchi boss Kevin Roberts, and with recipes cre­ated by former MasterChef win­ner Na­dia Lim, is well-placed to take ad­van­tage of the meal-kit trend, at least in this part of the world. The com­pany of­fers a weekly ser­vice de­liv­er­ing fresh in­gre­di­ents and recipes for peo­ple to cook their own meals at home.

In two and a half years, and with Syd­ney and Mel­bourne added in July last year, My Food Bag has grown its cus­tomer base to 20,000 across Aus­tralia and New Zealand, de­liv­er­ing more than 7.5 mil­lion meals in nine ci­ties. The com­pany is worth $60m.

Co-founder Ce­cilia Robin­son says its cus­tomers in Aus­tralia are sim­i­lar to those in New Zealand – busy, work­ing pro­fes­sion­als who want to eat a healthy and de­li­cious diet. While the com­pany have no plans to ex­pand out­side Aus­trala­sia, the Aussie mar­ket is prov­ing to be a good one.

“The busi­ness [in Aus­tralia] has real mo­men­tum and is cur­rently ex­ceed­ing our growth tar­gets. We have some fan­tas­tic sup­pli­ers and have built some great cor­po­rate re­la­tion­ships.”

Rockit’s tiny ap­ples sell for

"a sig­nif­i­cant premium" over stan­dard ap­ples, and the com­pany is break­ing in to new mar­ket seg­ments daily, in­clud­ing food ser­vice, vend­ing, and cor­po­rate



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