Happy Food Co. has grown beyond distributing flavorful meal kits through small, standalone coolers at Kansas City-area Price Chopper and Hen House locations, said chef and co-founder Kiersten Firquain.
The 2017 Startland Under the Radar startup has now developed a software platform — in partnership with retailers nationwide and 75 local vendors — to enable grocers across the country to assemble and sell their own meal kits. Happy Food provides the boxes, marketing materials, the culinary engine as well as the software component, Firquain said.
“We want to help the groceries use [the platform] to track their supply and to help them execute at store level,” she said. “It’s for meal kits, but also to keep track of inventory.”
The more traditional side of the Happy Food operation has nearly tripled in size and moved locations three times since the company’s founding in 2015, Firquain said. She and co-founder Jeff Glasco hope the most recent space fulfils their needs for a while, she said.
Happy Food meal kits feature boxes of prepared ingredients and recipes for customers struggling for dinner ideas, Firquain said, with popular options including a bison cheeseburger quesadilla and a soba noodle bowl with spicy chicken.
Meals run the spectrum of flavors, uniting comfort foods with uncommon ingredients, she said, with pricing for each box varying based on the cost of the ingredients inside.
“We say that we are good food for real people, so we know people are still going to go out to eat sometimes, but people still want to cook at home,” she said. “And for those people that want a high-quality, restaurant style meal that’s locally sourced, it’ll be done in 20 or 30 minutes.”
Eighty percent of Americans don’t have a specific plan for dinner, she said — and that’s why Happy Food’s meal kits and nationwide platform work.
The company also recently launched Give Some Happy gift boxes, which include mugs, coffee, and Happy Food gift certificates, Firquain said. They’re functional presents for clients or friends, she said.
Happy Food plans to enlist three more grocers this year as part of an app release that aims to solve the most common problem customers face with the meal kits: finding them.
“Right now, you don’t know when you go to the grocery store if the meal that you’re looking for is there or not,” Firquain said. “You just see what’s there and you buy what you want and, but a lot of times customers are looking for a specific item and so this would enable you to know where exactly to find that item and which location.”