Just Add Cooking (JAC), the Boston-based meal kit company specializing in locally-sourced meals from the New England area, has ceased operations.
The news went out today via an email to customers from company founder Jan Leife. According to the email, the company had been in search of financing over the past few months and, not surprisingly, investor appetites for meal kit startups has soured in the wake of Chef’d’s sudden shut down and Blue Apron’s struggles.
From the email:
Over the past several months, we’ve been focused on finding a long term financing solution. As meal kit companies have shuttered and others have been bought by large companies, the market hasn’t played in our favor, and unfortunately we have not succeeded in finding a viable solution for long-term financing.
The effort to find funding included a Wefunder equity crowdfunding campaign less than a month ago to raise up to $300 thousand, but the effort fell far short with only $7.7 thousand in funds coming in. According to the Wefunder page, the company has taken in a total of $1.48 million from 32 investors over its five-year lifespan.
The news is yet another sign that startups are having trouble making the economics of meal kits work even while sales rise. JAC saw its revenue grow 19% year over year, fueled in large part by sales of their meal kits in grocery store locations around New England. According to the company, overall revenue was on track to hit $1.9 million by the end of the year.
Based on the email, it’s not immediately clear if JAC will continue to look for a strategic option such as selling the company. We’ve reached out to Leife for a comment and will update this post when we hear more.
UPDATE 11/6/18: Jan Leife responded to our question about what’s next for Just Add Cooking with the following statement:
“Currently we are seeking a company who could continue to serve our customers or meet their needs in a different way.
In our six years of operation, we have built a community of thousands of loyal customers passionate about local food. A recipe database with hundreds of recipes that utilize local ingredients and are created with the financial and logistical restraints of meal kits in mind. We enjoy a strong brand recognition in New England and been awarded Best of Boston 2018 by Boston Magazine.”
Hat tip to Spoon reader Elina for the head’s up on this news.
The full email is below:
As of today November 5th Just Add Cooking will be ceasing operations in Boston. We are so sorry to bring you this news, and want to explain why we have come to this decision.
We set out six years ago with a big idea about a new local food delivery service and an ambition to create a new food system in New England helping busy customers reclaim their kitchen. Since then, we’ve accomplished many things we’re incredibly proud of. We built a brand and a supply chain with many of the finest farms and food companies there are in the region. We’ve created hundreds of amazing and delicious recipes and we built some truly exceptional relationships with engaged and loyal customers such as you. Last but not least we manage to gather an exceptional group of people who made Just Add Cooking great, every week.
That said, Just Add Cooking today still has many challenges to overcome. Over the past several months, we’ve been focused on finding a long term financing solution.
As meal kit companies have shuttered and others have been bought by large companies, the market hasn’t played in our favor, and unfortunately we have not succeeded in finding a viable solution for long-term financing.
We wanted to close by thanking all of you one last time for ordering, for telling your friends to order, for rating us, and for telling us how we were doing. We hope you enjoyed the journey as much as we did.
Jan Leife and the Just Add Cooking Team