Gousto says its aim is to make it “easy and enjoyable” for UK families to cook and eat nutritious, home-cooked dinners.
“By making home-cooking easier than ever before we're well on our way to helping families serve up 400 million nutritious meals by 2025 and reducing reliance on processed food,” CEO and founder Tim Boldt told FoodNavigator.
Founded by Boldt and James Carter in 2012, the company now sends over one million meals a month to households around the UK, and sees itself as helping Britons adopt European eating habits.
“In the UK, our busy modern lives and a change in food culture have contributed to our snacking culture. Often, in a rush for food and we aren't taking the time to enjoy it, instead of going for quick or cheap calories, we end up picking easy options and eating on the go which has a knock-on effect on our health,” the company says, citing research from Margaret Morris, PhD, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
“Having a desk lunch or eating on the go is almost unheard of in Europe. Meals in themselves an event, something you take time out of your day to do and enjoy,” it says.
The company also cites research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which found Britons to spend just 78 minutes devoted to eating and drinking each day.
Citizens of France, Greece and Italy spend the most time eating meals of all the countries surveyed – over two hours each day – while the bottom three countries were the Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland with 70 to 75 minutes.
Its 30 weekly recipes are available for delivery any day of the week and, of these, there are special dietary options such as ‘lighter’, ‘quick & easy’, ‘vegetarian’, ‘family friendly’ and ‘gluten-free’.
A family box for two adults and two to three children costs £47.75 for four recipes or £2.98 per serving. A two-person kit with two meals works out at £6.25 per serving.
Gousto relies on certain branded products, quality seals and third-party certification labels to reassure consumers over the quality.
Its cod and haddock are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) while its dairy products come from their countries of origin or are protected designation of origin (PDO).
Its Halloumi cheese comes from Cyprus and its Feta from Greece, for instance, although an exception is the ‘hard Italian cheese’ it uses instead of PDO Parmesan because the latter is not vegetarian.
Branded products it adds to the meal kits include Italian tinned tomato brand Mutti and UK organic dairy brand Yeo Valley.
It also says it tries to source locally and in season, where possible.
Boldt said: “Before we start working with a new supplier, they must go through a tough process of vetting to make sure they meet our high standards for quality and sustainability. We regularly visit our suppliers to make sure they continue to meet our standards and to learn about new ingredients we could use in our recipes. We use only 100% fresh British meat, free-range eggs and our trusted suppliers include Hellman’s, Artisan Bakery and many more.”
Is this sustainable eating?
According to Boldt said the company is driven by “a passion [for] food and a belief it should create a sustainable solution to enjoying that food”.
So how does he reconcile this with the environmental impact generated by its meal kits as they are wrapped in paper and plastic and dispatched around the UK?
“Packaging plays an important role at Gousto and helps us to combat food waste, delivering our precise ingredients across the country safely,” he said. “Yet, we've asked ourselves the questions 'how do we tackle food waste and reduce packaging at the same time?'
“Earlier in the year, we set up a dedicated sustainability team, who've worked hard to find the best way to reduce plastic in our boxes and offer more recyclable and sustainable packaging.
“Consequently, we have pledged to remove 50% of plastic from our boxes by the end of 2019. We're a company that enjoys finding better ways of doing the 'everyday' and we're excited to apply this approach to packaging.
It says the majority of the packaging in its recipe boxes is fully recyclable or biodegradable and while the insulating ‘Woolcool’ layer can be composted
It is feeling relatively confident despite forecasts of looming supply chain chaos in the aftermath of Brexit.
“Most of our ingredients are sourced within the UK, however for some seasonal ingredients and for some more unusual ingredients we have to source outside of the UK,” he said.
“We have discussed Brexit with all our suppliers and we have regular committees and risk committees who are systematically looking at the risk and likelihood of certain issues and we feel relatively good about our own supply chain.”
On whether the company intends to expand to the rest of Europe, Boldt said: “Our priority at the moment is on winning an even bigger share of the one billion meals eaten in [the UK] each week.”