- CookUnity, which delivers meals made by professional chefs, announced Wednesday that it raised $15.5 million in Series A funding, bringing its total funding raised since 2018 to $23 million.
- The New York City-based company said it plans to use the funds to expand across North America and ramp up its marketing efforts. CookUnity is planning to open new kitchens in Los Angeles and in Texas to support the geographic expansion along with its existing kitchen in Brooklyn.
- In the increasingly-crowded meal kit and meal delivery space, CookUnity differentiates itself by emphasizing that its chef-to-consumer platform offers handmade meals from “top culinary talent."
Many food companies market "chef-inspired" or "chef-prepared" meals to shoppers. But CookUnity's meals are, in fact, prepared by professional chefs, offering a point of differentiation for the growing company in a space that grocers and online providers alike are targeting.
The personalized meal subscription service has welcomed new culinary talent from restaurants struggling during the novel coronavirus pandemic and provides chefs with a cooking space along with ingredients, packaging and logistical support. CookUnity allows consumers to pick between four and 16 weekly meals from more than 300 options, with prices starting at $10.49 per meal.
The new funding follows “incredible growth” for CookUnity since its founding in 2018, founder and CEO Mateo Marietti said in the announcement, including a more than 450% year-over-year sales increase since last January, fueled by a growing number of weekly subscribers.
CookUnity’s recent acceleration includes hiring 12 chefs in 2020, bringing its total to 32. The goal is to have more than 150 chefs across the three kitchens in California, Texas and New York by mid-2022, the company said.
Meal delivery companies have been buoyed by the pandemic's continued disruption on consumers' habits, driving increased at-home consumption and cooking. Several meal kit services, including Home Chef and Sun Basket, launched new product lines last year. In October, Nestlé purchased meal delivery service Freshly in a deal valuing the company at $950 million. "Plant-forward” meal delivery startup Thistle recently raised $10.3 million in Series B funding.
It's unclear if this demand will stick around post-pandemic, however. Some experts are predicting that meal kit sales will shift from online to in-store, with brick-and-mortar grocers seeing a rebound.