One of the perks of going into an office, at least for many in the startup world, was the catered lunches. Sheltering in place and people being forced to work from home has obliterated that particular perk. But prepared meal service Freshly could help bring it back — not just for big startups, but for companies of all sizes.
Freshly announced its new Freshly for Business service today. The idea is pretty straightforward: Companies create an account with Freshly, and their employees can order prepared meals for home delivery, just as they can with the consumer service. Meals arrive cold and only need to be reheated in the microwave and served. (I tried Freshly last year and thought the meals were delicious.)
“We’ve always seen the opportunity with businesses to be massive,” Freshly Founder and CEO, Michael Wystrach, told me by phone today. He said Freshly for Business had been on the product roadmap for a while but there was “so much demand with companies trying to solve the COVID challenge. So we accelerated the plans.”
The service can be scaled both in volume and cost. It’s available to companies of any size, and meals can be fully or partially subsidized by the company to fit with budgets. The service is available now and companies can sign up at the Freshly for Business site. Unfortunately, Freshly only ships to the lower 48, so employees in Hawaii and Alaska will need to find some other perk.
Freshly isn’t the only food business adapting to the current state of the world. Last month, NYC corporate catering service Ox Verte pivoted to home office meal delivery. It too was working with existing corporate clients to subsidize meals for employees. And startups like Pepper and Choco are helping restaurant food suppliers transition into direct sales to consumers.
While I had Wystrach on the phone today, I asked him about any changes that have happened with the company’s consumer business since the pandemic started. “We’ve really seen older generations make aggressive moves to the platform,” he said. People over 60 years old used to make up 25 to 35 percent of Freshly’s customer base; since the COVID-19 outbreak, the over 60 set now accounts for more than 50 percent. This make sense as older people in particular are susceptible to the virus and really need to rely on food delivery and not leave the house.
In March, Freshly shipped 4.2 million meals and is close to hitting 1 million meals a week (back in August, the company was doing 600,000 meals a week). Freshly has also seen an increase in the amount of food people are ordering, with average order sizes jumping 20 percent. This too makes sense, as panicked people are too scared to go into the grocery store, unable to get a grocery delivery time, or not wanting to pay exorbitant restaurant delivery fees, and are probably stocking up on food wherever they can find it.
With dire predictions for what a COVID+flu season in the fall could look like, chances are good that this won’t be the last time we are ordered to stay at home. That means more working from home offices. It’s smart for food companies like Freshly to have the infrastructure in place to accommodate the back-and-forth future we are likely to be living with for some time to come.