Shuttered meal kit company Chef’d is back from the dead, this time as a clean-label retail kit courtesy of True Food Innovations. The latter just announced it will roll out meal kits under the Chef’d and True Chef monikers in retail outlets in 2019.
True Food purchased the assets to Chef’d in July 2018, shortly after Chef’d unexpectedly closed its doors, citing funding and expense issues. The company was one of the first to sell meal kits in stores, via a Costco partnership, in addition to its mail-subscription service.
Under True Food, Chef’d kits will return to stores, this time with a 55-day shelf life thanks to a patent-pending formula True Food has developed that uses high-pressure processing without the need for preservatives. All kits require 15 to 20 minutes of prep time. Most interesting, True Food claims its kits’ 55-day shelf life has “cracked the code” on meal kits and that it’s a “key differentiator and absolute requirement for retail meal kits to be commercially viable for nationwide distribution.”
No word yet on which stores will carry the resurrected Chef’d meal kits, but True Food has said the rollout will be nationwide. We’ve reached out to True Food for more launch and pricing details and will update them here as they roll in. What we do know is that Chef’d historically worked with non-traditional retailers, forging partnerships with drug stores, wholesalers, and even one with Byte, to supply office fridges with meal kits. One wonders if True Food will continue that approach with the newly resurrected Chef’d.
Whichever stores Chef’d lands in, it will go up against numerous other meal kits that have turned to the retail sector over the last year or so. Kroger, who bought Home Chef, announced in December 2018 it was rolling out a pilot with Walgreens to sell meal kits in the drug store. Walgreens previously had a deal with Chef’d before the latter shut down. Albertsons bought Plated last year and started offering its meal kits nationwide in stores.
No one’s been so bold as to claim they’ve cracked the code, which is a way of saying you have the ultimate solution the industry has been frantically digging to find the last few years. “We listened to our retail partners and we developed products to solve their problem: shelf life,” Alan True, CEO and founder of True, said in a release.
The numbers will tell us soon enough if a longer shelf-life is indeed they key to selling more meal kits. But if that’s the case, I can’t help thinking it might be cheaper and easier to just grab a frozen dinner and call it a day.