Chef’d, the meal-kit brand that last week ceased operations, is getting a second chance but will be reorganized to put greater emphasis on selling products in retail stores, says Robert T. Jones, president of True Food Innovations, which acquired the assets of Chef’d.
“We believe the retail channel will continue to grow, and we will concentrate our efforts on that portion of the Chef’d business,” Jones says.
Packaged-food consultancy True Food, which sells its own brand of meal kits via food retailers, acquired the assets of Chef’d, including plant, property, equipment, brand and intangible assets for an undisclosed amount. True Food plans to consolidate the assets into its existing businesses.
Prior to joining True Food last September, Jones served as senior vice president of business development at Chef’d.
At that time Chef’d ceased operations, all of the roughly 350 to 400 Chef’d employees were terminated, Jones said and staffing for the reorganized company has not been determined.
“We purchased the assets only of the company from the lender,” Jones said. “Once we determine final restructuring and business channels we will look to bring on additional employees to support our business.”
True Food is located in Newport Beach, California and most of the former Chef’d employees reside elsewhere, Jones says. Chef’d was headquartered in El Segundo, California and had operations in Brooklyn, New York and Pico Rivera, California.
Chef’d, unlike other meal-kit companies, did not require customers to sign up for a subscription. The company also differentiated itself by offering meal collections created by celebrity chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, Fabio Viviani and Chitra Agrawal, along with food brands including Atkins, Campbell’s and Beyond Meat. In February, Chef’d added Marley’s Kitchen—a brand created by the family of the late reggae pioneer Bob Marley—to the mix.
Jones says the fate of those partnerships is uncertain. “We will determine which brands make sense, and we will need to negotiate all new agreements as all previous agreements have insolvency and change of control language, so they were not part of our asset purchase,” he says.
Chef’d last year raised $35.2 million in a series B funding round from Smithfield Foods ($25.2 million) and Campbell Soup Co. ($10 million), according to reports. In 2016, Chef’d generated $12 million in sales and ranked No. 838 in Internet Retailer’s 2017 Top 1000. The merchant did not have enough sales in 2017 to rank in Internet Retailer’s 2018 Top 1000.
Representatives of Smithfield Foods and Campbell Soup did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
True Food, a wholly owned subsidiary of True Family Enterprises, is an advisor, co-packer and private-label supplier in the food and beverage industry. In January, True Food, launched its True Chef brand of long shelf-life retail meal kits at Texas locations of Costco Wholesale Corp. (No. 12 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000) and Bashas’ stores in Arizona. Jones said the company will continue both brands and plans to launch “several additional brands in the near future.” In September, he says, True Chef brand will be rolled out to more than 20 additional retailers.
Through its sister company True Fresh HPP, True Food develops and manufactures food products using high-pressure processing (HPP) technology that eliminates the use of preservatives or heat to produce all-natural refrigerated products. The company says its HPP process extends the usable life of foods up to 10 times the normal range.
True Family Enterprises, headed by investor Alan True, is a privately held family office. It owns and operates a portfolio of companies in the food and beverage, real estate, consumer goods, fashion and beauty, media and entertainment industries.Favorite