Plant-based meal kit company Purple Carrot just announced a $4 million equity investment from Fresh Del Monte Produce. The Needham, Massachusetts-based company reportedly plans to use the money to improve its supply chain and, according to a press release, “gain access to the developing retail channel.”
Like other meal kit companies, Purple Carrot offers a subscription-based service with pre-portioned ingredients, recipes, and cooking instructions. According to Bloomberg, the investment from Del Monte will give Purple Carrot further access to national distribution channels. (It currently ships kits to the 48 contiguous states.)
As pricing goes, Purple Carrot is on the higher end of the spectrum in comparison to other meal kits: a two-person plan goes for $72.00 per week for three meals, and the number jumps to $78.00 per week for the TB12 plan.
The market for plant-based foods is expected to hit $25 billion in 2020— roughly double from 2015. As one writer put it last year, “plant-based foods are no longer niche.” At the same time, the meal kit market is also growing, despite a somewhat dubious end to 2017. It’s expected to expand from $1.6 billion in 2016 to $35 billion in 2025.
Part of that growth is the number of companies now putting their kits on grocery store shelves, among them Plated, Chef’d, and, most recently, Blue Apron. Interestingly, Purple Carrot tried the retail avenue ages ago, when it landed on the shelves at a few Whole Foods stores in 2016. The company chose to put the program on hold to focus on the Tom Brady partnership. And while Purple Carrot hasn’t yet elaborated on what it means by “developing retail channel,” the likely answer is supermarkets.
The company’s past relationship to retail could give it a little extra muscle in terms of staying competitive. But Purple Carrot isn’t the only meal kit service out there aimed at health-conscious consumers. Sun Basket raised $57.8 million earlier this year for its service, and more established meal kit companies have long offered high-protein, gluten-free, and other health-conscious plans.
With the average meal kit price hovering around $10 per person, the more expensive Purple Carrot will need to work hard to make its plant-based plans appealing to more than just the vegan crowd. We’ll see what kind of influence a major brand like Del Monte has on the company’s prospects, for better or worse.