Campbell Soup Co. said Wednesday that it has invested $10 million in the online meal kit retailer Chef’d in an effort to learn from its e-commerce capabilities at a “rapid pace,” officials said.
Campbell’s investment, which makes it Chef’d’s largest strategic investor, came as part of the retailer’s Series B funding, which also included further investment from the New York-based e-tailer FreshDirect. The Camden, N.J.-based company framed the investment as a necessity to compete in a market for online food and beverage sales it projects to grow by 38% to $66 billion in the coming five years.
“E-commerce will transform the food industry in similar ways to how it transformed entertainment and apparel. It is a game changer for consumers, food makers and retailers alike,” Denise Morrison, Campbell president and CEO, said in a statement. “The movement is irrevocable and irreversible. In the future, shopping for and preparing meals will be flexible, fully automated and even anticipatory. Chef’d will help Campbell connect with our consumers where they are today and, more importantly, where they’re headed.”
Campbell said the company would receive a seat on the company’s board of directors. Under the terms of the partnership, Chef’d will help with infrastructure and distribution of meal solutions through the Campbell’s Kitchen site. Additionally, Campbell will benefit from Chef’d’s insights on e-commerce business models, access to data analytics and insights on shopper behaviors. The two companies will also test various capabilities over the three-year agreement around product innovation and fulfillment.
Chef’d, based in El Segundo, Calif., offers people the opportunity to choose and reorder from hundreds of meals at any given time, without subscriptions or membership fees. Chef’d partners with notable chefs, culinary personalities and more than 125 trusted brands in food, fitness, and health and wellness to offer more than 1,000 meal solutions spanning breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. The company was launched a little over two years ago.
“We are actively looking to add strategic partners and Campbell’s outlook on the future of food and e-commerce aligns perfectly with the Chef’d vision of the future of online grocery,” Kyle Ransford, CEO at Chef’d, said. “Both Campbell and Chef’d believe in continuing to drive innovation in the new food economy, particularly around consumer customization and e-commerce solutions.”
“We are fully committed to growing our e-commerce business with an emphasis on bold moves and rapid pace,” added Mark Alexander, president, of Campbell’s Simple Meals and Beverages group. “We are firm believers in building relationships with partners that share our vision while enabling us to rapidly learn, evolve and test new capabilities.”
Other investors in Chef’d’s Series B round include FreshDirect, which is making a follow-on investment to their Series A investment. DA Davidson & Co. acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Chef’d and will continue to represent the company in raising the balance of the Series B round.
This announcement follows a series of moves Campbell has made to develop an ecosystem of innovative partners focused on defining the future of food. In February 2016, Campbell committed $125 million to its Acre Venture Partners fund and continues to support innovative start-ups such as Habit and the Soulfull Project.