Farmer’s Fridge Pushes Retail Expansion

Farmer's Fridge

From retail kiosks to doorstep delivery, making healthy meals more convenient is no easy task.

The latest: Farmer’s Fridge, operators of 24/7 healthy vending machines and retail kiosks, aims to quintuple its retail footprint by year’s end.

While 70% of its business comes from 650 automated public refrigerators, Farmer’s Fridge is leveraging partnerships with Target, airport-based Hudson News, and (as of last week) Costco to scale its jarred salad and grain bowl business from 200 to 1K stores in just 12 months.

Meals on Wheels

Consumers want healthy meals on their own terms, and often at home.

  • 50% of consumers, across all age groups, say eating healthy is a top priority for them.
  • 55% will pay a premium for foods that contribute to health and wellness.
  • This year, Americans intend to spend 43% more on fresh produce and grocery items vs. 25% less on out-of-home eating.

Cater to you. But, Americans view convenience as the third-most important buying factor behind price and quality, with 82% saying it’s extremely important.

And the logistics of a ready-to-eat business that prioritizes fresh over packaged ingredients can be tricky.

After a food illness incident last year, orders for DTC plant-based meal service Daily Harvest fell 36% YoY, with the company laying off 20% of its workforce earlier this year. And following a terrible 2022 for most meal kit makers, Nestlé wound down operations at Freshly this January, a brand it bought for $950M in 2020.

New ingredients. Like Farmer’s Fridge, who experimented with a home delivery service during the pandemic, Daily Harvest and organic meal maker Urban Remedy see fridge-in-shop retail as a sustainable path forward.

Still, others say DTC healthy food isn’t dead.

  • DTC grocery service Hungryroot is using AI and automation to both streamline its operations and personalize the customer experience.
  • Last year, Instacart debuted prepared meals service Ready Meals Hub and partnered with the White House to introduce a medically tailored meals division, Instacart Health.
  • Subscription service Thrive Market uses a hyper-curated selection of organic foods with large order sizes to keep prices low for its 1.2M paying members.

Looking ahead: Giving people the option to select something that’s as convenient as it is healthy makes all the sense in the world — and expansion is necessary. But, with ~70% of the grocery store made up of ultra-processed foods, 15-square-foot fridges, healthy vending machines, and affordable meal kits are still a drop in the bucket.

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