Do recipe box companies have a new competitor?

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

Part meal kit service, part grocery delivery platform, Cherrypick wants to disrupt the retail experience for shoppers. Image credit: Cherrypick
Part meal kit service, part grocery delivery platform, Cherrypick wants to disrupt the retail experience for shoppers. Image credit: Cherrypick

Related tags Meal kit grocery delivery

Well, kind of. Meet the new operator that’s cheaper than a meal kit service, and offers grocery delivery to boot.

Recipe box companies won big amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when an increasing number of consumers decided to bypass the supermarket in favour of meal kit delivery services. At the time, one such company – Mindful Chef – reported a +425% spike in new recipe box customers​.  

When the pandemic died down, so too did recipe box demand. But by that time consumers had caught the convenience bug, and many have since kept up their meal kit subscriptions.

Also feeding into the convenience trend is grocery delivery, with research conducted by ecommerce marketplace provider Spryker suggesting that in the UK, 60% of consumers now order their groceries online.

So what if one operator could do both? Serving as part meal kit service, part grocery-delivery platform, Cherrypick (formerly Lollipop) wants to disrupt the retail experience for shoppers, with human and planetary health in mind.

Why Cherrypick wants to influence consumer diets

Cherrypick is described as a ‘smart grocery shopping and meals platform’ designed to help consumers ‘eat better, effortlessly’. In essence, it’s a smartphone app that partners with retailers and brands to offer consumers an easier and more personalised shopping experience.  

How does Cherrypick work?

How does it work? Shoppers input information about their household, including dietary preferences, into the app. A customised meal plan is then generated, with consumers able to select recipes from in-house and celebrity chefs. When a recipe is selected, all ingredients are automatically added to the virtual basket. Shoppers can also add the rest of their grocery order.

A delivery slot with one of Cherrypick’s partner retailers is selected, and those groceries are delivered to consumer doors.

As it stands, Cherrypick has more than 330,000 households on the platform and has partnerships with three of the UK’s largest supermarkets: Tesco, Asda, and Sainsbury’s.

The start-up is the brainchild of Tom Foster-Carter. As the former COO of challenger bank Monzo, Foster-Carter hopes to leverage his experience in building businesses (he helped scale Monzo to unicorn status) – to the meal-planning and shopping platform.

But Foster-Jones also has another motive, he explained at food- and ag-tech conference F&A Next in the Netherlands. The entrepreneur wants to nudge consumers towards making healthy and sustainable food choices.

“Half the global population will be overweight or obese by 2035; one-third of greenhouse gas emissions come from food and meat; and one-sixth of the food we buy we throw away. We don’t have the time or tools to do differently.”

TFC - Cherrypick App
Cherrypick was set up by co-founders Tom Foster-Carter (pictured) and Chris Parsons, who serve as CEO and CTO respectively. Image credit: Cherrypick

Tackling food waste and reducing UPF consumption

Cherrypick wants to help solve these issues with the help of artificial intelligence.

To tackle food waste, Cherrypick incorporates a meal planning function powered by machine learning. The model learns which ingredients each consumer already has in its cupboard, so that no excess products are purchased and household food waste can be limited.

In optimising shoppers’ baskets, both food waste and money can be saved, explained Foster-Carter. “Because you just get the ingredients you need, food waste is very, very low with us.”

Is it cheaper to buy ingredients from a supermarket, rather than a recipe box company?

According to a recent survey conducted by British newspaper the Observer​, consumers can save up to 74% of the cost of meals by buying the ingredients separately in the supermarket, rather than via a meal kit company.

The finding is the result of an analysis comparing food prices at Tesco with the cost of buying the same meals via four of the most popular recipe box companies: Hello Fresh, Gousto, Green Chef, and Mindful Chef.

Beyond food waste, the co-founder is also passionate about reducing the overall carbon footprint of shopping baskets. That means eating more seasonally, for one. “Supermarkets have trained us to expect the same product all year round. But seasonality is incredibly important in the fight [for] sustainability…”

Sticky Hoisin ‘Duck’ Noodles (1)
Sticky Hoisin 'Duck' Noodles is just one of the recipes available to app users. Image credit: Cherrypick

The start-up has developed sustainability data models to help boost the transparency of product environmental footprints that it hopes to rollout soon.

Another way Cherrypick can help influence consumer diets is by inviting them to share their food goals, be it to eat less meat, more vegetables, or fewer calories. Another feature, the ‘plant tracker’, allows consumers to keep track of how many plants they're eating throughout the week, with the aim to reach at least 30.

Behind the scenes, the start-up is also developing an ultra-processed food (UPF) tracker, which it is yet to launch.

Why are retailers partnering with Cherrypick?

Supermarket retailers have long been delivering groceries to consumers, and an increasing number also develops recipes to inspire and engage shoppers. To a certain extent, retailers have already been developing their own – albeit, pared back – versions of Cherrypick’s proposition.

But Cherrypick’s business model is reliant on partnering with these businesses. What makes retailers want to partner with Cherrypick?

How does the Cherrypick app make money?

Up until now, Cherrypick has been free for consumers to use. Groceries cost the same as they online, and just like online shopping, consumers pay for delivery.

But Cherrypick is seeking more revenue streams. “Our income is currently from supermarket commissions and advertising but grocery margins are very tight and insufficient to cover our costs,” explained founder Tom Foster-Carter. “We must find a new income stream to be sustainable.”

Just this week, Cherrypick announced it would be launching paid-for premium tiers. A free tier with ‘plenty of functionality’ still exists, but otherwise users can opt for Cherrypick Plus or Pro. ‘Final touches’ are being added to the upgrades, before the app announces new features and big-name chefs for the premium offerings.

This question caused concern for Foster-Carter when building the business alongside co-founder Chris Parsons, who serves as CTO. But although retailers often have their own solutions, doesn’t mean they’re always easy to use. Often they’re ‘clunky’, admitted the start-up CEO.

“This is a tough game. You have to develop great content, you have to be cool enough that great chefs want to put on more content…you’ve got to have the right UX [user experience].

“We make the whole thing work beautifully and even help with the cooking.”

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