San Clemente, California-based FreshRealm offers fresh meal solutions that range from ready-to-heat items to low-effort meal kits and ready-to-cook products. Michael Lippold, founder and CEO, talked with The Shelby Report’s Bob Reeves on the floor of the recent IDDBA Show in Anaheim, California.
“We’re a platform that allows retailers to enter the category, grow the category and scale the category,” Lippold said.
He added that FreshRealm manufactures the product, commercializes it and handles the supply chain work.
“Today, we manufacture products across four facilities in the country. We just recently announced that we’re in the process from moving from four facilities to six facilities…we also handle fulfillment and marketing and promotion. So basically, [we’re] an end-to-end solution.”
The company works with national retailers such as Kroger and Walmart, along with regional retailers including Publix and Meijer. It also works with Blue Apron and Marley Spoon on the e-commerce side.
Lippold said FreshRealm is a “turnkey brand that allows retailers to enter the category quickly.”
He added that much of the company’s business is private label. It has a catalog featuring more than 100 meals, but can also work with a retailer to customize to “a certain price point or ingredient standards or taste profile. We can do all of that.”
FreshRealm offers cooked and raw protein products. Cooked protein meals can go in the microwave. Each item is cut and placed so that it will heat evenly.
“We spent a lot of time figuring out those nuances,” Lippold said.
Meals are available in single servings or in a family size that can serve four people.
According to Lippold, the meals are made with consistency, and FreshRealm’s facilities across the U.S. are standardized.
“If we have a relationship with a big national retailer, and we’re making this egg noodles with meatballs meal, they’ll know that we can deliver it to their facilities, consistently, across the country,” he said.
Low-effort meal kits take about 10-15 minutes to prepare, allowing consumers to “feel that they’re part of making it. But you’re not cutting the vegetables, you’re not mixing the sauce. You basically have your personal sous chef set up there.”
The ready-to-cook meals feature raw protein in an oven-ready tray. “Think of this as a modern day, fresh version of an old-school, frozen TV dinner,” he said.
Lippold grew up in Minneapolis but now resides in California. He started in finance but has been in the food industry for the last 17 years. He said he went to work for Calavo Growers, where he gained an understanding of the fresh food business, and saw an opportunity.
“Consumers are eating more and more fresh food as time goes on. And I just really liked the complexity of fresh food,” he said.
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