Around this time last year, The Spoon published numerous posts about the possibilities of kid-centric meal kits. Typically these were simplified versions of the meal kit that offered healthy takes on kid favorites and required little to no prep for parents.
Yumble was a a bright spot in the flailing meal kit sector, Nomsly launched a Kickstarter campaign, and Chicago-based Wise Apple was peddling its pre-packed lunch subscription service to families. Over in Boston, Red Apple offered the same thing to East Coasters.
But a year later, Yumble is the only one of those players still actively in the game (having just raised $7 million is Series A funding). What happened?
Boston-based startup Nomsly launched a Kickstarter campaign in November 2017 to further expand its geographical reach. At that point, the company was bootstrapped, operating on funding from friends and family. Nomsly stood apart from other meal kits in that it was solely focused on kids’ meals and only provided lunch options: For $35/week, parents could get five meals delivered to their doors and have cold, pre-packed lunches on hand to send to school with their kids.
But after realizing adults were enjoying the lunches as much and in some cases more than the kids, Nomsly pivoted its strategy and in late 2017 started doing corporate deliveries. “Nomsly provides fresh, healthy snack packs to keep the team fed and focused, rather than sad and slow from yet another bag of chips,” Nomsly CEO Christopher Buck said at the time. The venture was rather short-lived, however. Nomsly disappeared from Shopify, and the company confirmed with The Spoon this week, via email, that they’ve closed down completely.
Meanwhile, over in Chicago, Wise Apple raised $3.6 million in seed funding in August 2017 for its subscription service, or what many referred to as a healthier version of Lunchables. The company’s pre-packed lunches were considerably pricier than a standard elementary school lunch ($6.50–$6.99 vs. around $2.00, respectively), but promised higher quality and more convenience, as you simply pulled one out of the fridge and sent it along to school with your kid.
Less than a year later, the company shut down with pretty much no explanation. “We have had the opportunity to deliver tens of thousands of lunches to families in nine different states – and we couldn’t be more proud and grateful for all we were able to accomplish,” the founders said in a June 22 email to customers.
Back over in Boston, Red Apple announced via its website it’s “hitting the pause button to ReGig, ReWork, and ReSet.”
Red Apple had been peddling a lunch subscription service that delivered to both homes and some schools in the Boston area. It’s been an especially helpful service for those with dietary restrictions, and customers can even choose portion size, upon wich the price of a meal is based. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
I think part of what’s going on here is that the nature of the meal kit is changing. In the last year, Blue Apron, Chef’d, Walmart, and even Weight Watchers started selling meal kits in grocery store aisles. Kroger acquired Home Chef in May 2018 and started selling in-store kits, and just this week unveiled a customizable meal kit customers compile in-store and take home.
All of this is to say subscription-based meal services may not be the right sales channel, even for busy parents. Yumble’s recent shot of investment by Sonoma Brands, lead investor in the company’s latest round, could give it access to alternative sales channels, like retail. That promise may be one reason Yumble’s managed to raise money where other services have shuttered.