Just seven months after being appointed as president, Erik Jensen has been promoted to chief executive officer at meal kit provider Home Chef, a subsidiary of The Kroger Co.
Plans call for Jensen to take the CEO reins effective Feb. 1. He succeeds Home Chef founder Pat Vihtelic, who will continue to serve on the company’s advisory board over the balance of 2022.
“Home Chef was built on a strong foundation, and under Pat Vihtelic’s leadership, the brand has disrupted the meal solutions industry over the past decade,” Jensen (pictured left) said in a statement. “On behalf of everyone at Home Chef, I thank Pat for his dedication and ingenuity throughout the years, and I feel grateful for the trust he has in me to take on this role. As we transition into Home Chef’s next chapter, I look forward to continuing to drive growth and accelerate innovations in 2022 and beyond.”
Jensen has been with Home Chef for six-and-a-half years, joining the company in August 2015 after two years as an associate at Boston Consulting Group. He started at Home Chef as director of culinary strategy and then was named director of product in March 2016 and then vice president of product in August 2016. Jensen was promoted to chief product officer in November 2017 — serving in that role through Kroger’s 2018 acquisition of Home Chef — and last June was named as the meal kit brand’s president.
Chicago-based Home Chef noted that Jensen played a key role in growing the brand’s retail business in Kroger stores. Last October, Kroger reported that Home Chef reached $1 billion in sales, fueled in part by the pandemic-driven food-at-home trend, as more customers sought convenient mealtime solutions such as meal kits and heat-and-eat meals. Home Chef sales jumped 118% in 2020.
As Home Chef’s CEO, Jensen will report to Dan De La Rosa, group vice president of fresh merchandising for Cincinnati-based Kroger.
“We are incredibly thankful to Pat Vihtelic for his vision and partnership in growing Home Chef into the $1 billion brand it is today,” De La Rosa commented. “Our customers continue to tell us that they enjoy cooking at home, and with Home Chef’s expanded selection online and availability in our more than 2,200 Kroger stores nationwide, the meal solutions brand is making it easy for anyone to prepare chef-worthy meals. We’re excited to see Erik step into the CEO role and know that under his leadership, he will continue growing the brand and providing fresh, easy-to-make meals to our customers.”
Vihtelic founded Home Chef in 2013. The company sells meal kits by subscription for home delivery as well as in retail stores, and it has expanded into new meal categories such as heat-and-eat.
“It’s been an honor to create and grow Home Chef into the business it is today,” Vihtelic stated. “I’m extremely proud of the brand and our exceptional employees, and I’m confident Erik Jensen will excel in leading the Home Chef team over its next phase.”