The chief weakness of ready-made meals is that they’re low on fresh veggies, which is not surprising given that rice and couscous maintain their consistency for days; the same cannot be said for lettuce and eggplant.
Freshly is out to change that with a new line of plant-based meals, geared toward keeping pace with produce-heavy meal kits from services such as Purple Carrot and Hungryroot; the homepage of the latter displays “fresh produce” like broccoli, spinach, and seven-veggie stir-fry (though most of those ingredients are shipped fresh, not in ready-made meals). All of these services are competing for the roughly 5% of Americans, mostly women, who are vegetarians, and the many more who often eat vegetarian meals.
Freshly, which delivers more than a million microwavable meals per week, was headed for an IPO last year before it was bought by Nestlé. The ensuing flush of corporate cash is funding new facilities in New Jersey and Georgia, menu expansions of specialty lines, add-ons like extra meats and side dishes, and, up next, foods geared toward lunch and breakfast.
The plant-based menu focuses on plant proteins, including a plant burger, chickpea curry, Buffalo cauliflower mac and cheese, and falafel.