Freshly, a meal delivery startup partly backed by global food giant Nestle, believes it can help address senior living culinary challenges imposed by Covid-19, and is looking to the industry as a potential source of new business.
Freshly is currently speaking to a range of companies, from those that manage sprawling 55-plus neighborhoods with 4,000 residents to smaller, single-site senior living communities and even in-home care providers. From a business standpoint, the company’s overarching goal is to work with major senior living providers, according to CEO and Co-Founder Michael Wystrach.
“About 20% of our customers are over 65 years old,” Wystrach told Senior Housing News. “It made a lot of sense for us to reach out to [senior living providers], especially with the challenges we know they’re having around Covid-19 and limited interaction.”
Freshly’s interest in senior living is part of trend that was underway even before the pandemic, however. Senior living owners and operators are interested in a new breed of nutritious and appetizing prepackaged meals as a way to add variety to dining programs at a reasonable price point. Another similar startup, Luvo, is discussing with Welltower (NYSE: WELL) new ways to provide nutritious meals to older adults who live in senior housing settings, including older adults who are discharged from skilled nursing facilities owned by the REIT.
Freshly is based in New York City and sells and distributes never-frozen microwavable meals to customers on a weekly basis. Freshly expects to ship 50 million meals starting at $7.99 apiece to people in over 20,000 ZIP codes in the U.S. this year alone. The startup has so far raised over $110 million, with Nestle as one of its largest backers.
The meals themselves come in 35 different offerings, ranging from steak peppercorn with mashed potatoes and chicken parmesan with broccoli to chicken tikka masala and chicken teriyaki. Freshly makes its food in kitchens across the country, and then sends meals to distribution facilities to be shipped to customers within 24 hours. The meals are never frozen, and last for seven days in the refrigerator.
“What we really do is try to focus on the health aspects of those meals by bringing down the sugar content and reducing sodium and processed carbohydrates,” Wystrach said. “And, by making sure those meals are fresh.”
Freshly aims to address senior living providers’ pain points in exploring new avenues with those companies. Specifically, Freshly sees opportunities in working with providers that are seeking ways to keep residents well-fed during a pandemic that has forced everyone farther apart and halted normal dining services.
The startup sees a few different opportunities in the senior housing and care industry. One is to work with 55-plus communities in a “B2B2C” arrangement, where the food delivery service gains access to a company’s resident base and markets and sells meals to them. Another is a more traditional B2B arrangement, where Freshly would send meals to a senior living community or company to supplement a culinary program that might have been impacted by Covid-19.
“It’s challenging for some facilities to maintain and run a full kitchen right now,” Wystrach said. “[Using Freshly], they can deliver a single-serve meal that is fully sealed and safe.”
Though Freshly is still in discussions with senior living companies regarding business opportunities, it has already finalized a partnership with in-home care company Senior Helpers to offer Freshly as an add-on service.
“We’re excited to … learn more as we work with senior facilities and our older customers to understand how we can continue to customize the product to meet their needs,” Wystrach said.