London, UK-based meal kit company Gousto announced this week it has raised a £30 million ($37.6 million USD) Series F funding round led by UK private equity investment firm Perwyn, with participation from existing investors BGF Ventures, MMC Ventures, Canaccord Genuity, and Unilever Ventures. The round also includes investment from British Instagram star Joe Wicks, better known as The Body Coach. This round brings Gousto’s total funding to $137.7 million.
Gousto’s meal kits — or “recipe boxes,” as they’re called in the UK — focus on healthy ingredients and more sustainable eating habits (hence Joe Wicks’ involvement). The service offers subscription plans for everything from vegetarian and plant-based diets to boxes for those who just want a healthier take on standard comfort foods. Users sign up via the app or website, choose a plan, and get pre-portioned ingredients delivered to their door with corresponding recipes each week. The company claims to be delivering 1.5 million meals per month in the UK. Price-wise, the service is actually a little cheaper than its main UK competitor HelloFresh: a four-person box with four recipes per week breaks down to £2.98 per serving, compared to £3.44 per serving from HelloFresh.
The company is also intensely focused on using tech to make meal kit logistics more efficient and also offer customers more choice. The company uses a public-facing, AI-powered personalization tool to make more relevant recommendations to individual customers. “We have been using the technology since our founding, and it powers everything from the recipes that customers see on our website to how boxes are prepared in our Picking Hub,” company CEO, Timo Boldt, wrote in a blog post last year. He also claimed, in a separate interview, that that 40 percent of the meals Gousto sells are recommended by AI. The company also uses AI on its back end, to automate the supply chain, as well as a forecasting.
Sustainability is the company’s other major focus area. On its website the company says most of its packaging is fully recyclable, and that it is looking for more sustainable ways to replace the few plastics it uses in the subscription boxes. That’s particularly important in the UK, where new controls are being introduced in an effort to drastically cut down on single-use plastics.
Unlike other meal kit companies, Gousto won’t head to the grocery aisle any time soon. Last year, HelloFresh started selling meal kits in grocery stores in addition to offering a subscription business. But Boldt has been vocal about his desire for Gousto to be an alternative to the grocery store, rather than another piece of its inventory.
Gousto told AgFunder this latest investment round will go towards further building out its technology side of the business, including hiring over 100 tech employees by 2020.