HelloFresh is the world’s leading meal kit company, delivering more than a million meals a week in the U.S. alone. By providing pre-portioned, fresh ingredients directly to consumers, the company helps customers minimize the hassle - and waste - that comes with preparing home-cooked meals. This business model also enables HelloFresh to maintain lean, efficient operations. Minimizing waste has become somewhat of an ethos at the company, and there is a consistent focus on finding opportunities for improvement.
Over the course of 2017, HelloFresh gained significant traction in the United States, growing its customer base in Q4 by 90 percent year over year. Accommodating rapid growth means increasing food purchases. And although a subscription model helps with predicting demand, maintaining adequate supply means that some surplus is inevitable. Behind the scenes, HelloFresh introduced Spoiler Alert to connect that surplus with its highest and best use, while minimizing food waste sent to landfill.
“From the time we started our company, reducing food waste has been inherent in our mission and model,” explains Uwe Voss, Chief Operations Officer and Managing Director for HelloFresh US. “On such an important issue, we determined we could raise the bar and lead by example for our customers and industry.”
HelloFresh's 'Gorgeous Greens Farro Bowl' recipe. Source: HelloFresh
Since July 2017, HelloFresh has provided over one million nutritious meals and counting to food insecure populations (based on the USDA calculation of 1.2 pounds of food per meal). At its New Jersey distribution center, the company nearly doubled the rate of its surplus food donated to its local community partners within six months, while simultaneously reducing landfill-bound waste by over 65 percent. Of the food that is donated, nearly 90 percent of it is produce, representing the highest levels of perishability and an important nutritional category for America’s food insecure. HelloFresh has now implemented Spoiler Alert across its U.S.-based distribution centers, setting the company up to significantly reduce its waste footprint and make meaningful impacts in the communities in which they operate.
An opportunity to improve
In the past, HelloFresh used spreadsheets to monitor losses and share surplus and waste data across departments. While this system helped with tracking product volumes, it was challenging to see trends and identify areas of improvement based on the collected data. Improving internal capacity to both analyze and manage unsold food products became a priority.
“Everyone at our company is committed to minimizing waste, and our procurement, merchandising, inventory, and operations teams work together to make sure that is the case,” mentions Davin Huang, Senior Tax Manager at HelloFresh US. “Last year, it became apparent that we could take steps to improve collaboration around this process, and we began researching solutions.”
HelloFresh saw Spoiler Alert’s combination of software and professional services as a complement to its existing inventory and waste management initiatives. To prove that a relationship would be effective, HelloFresh decided to do a pilot at its New Jersey distribution center, which is responsible for supplying customers in the eastern U.S.
Working together to reduce food waste
By working with Spoiler Alert, HelloFresh now has a holistic strategy in place to manage its surplus ingredients and meals that are generated at distribution centers.
- Improved business operations: The company uses Spoiler Alert’s dashboards and item-level capabilities to track product volumes, categories, and reason codes for surplus product and organic waste streams.
- Strengthened community impact: As part of the rollout, Spoiler Alert worked with HelloFresh and their nonprofit partners to optimize donation pickup schedules to increase the volume and quality of nutritious food diverted to food insecure families.
- Increased stakeholder engagement: Weekly and monthly impact reports that highlight successes and areas for improvement drive executive buy-in and employee engagement around food waste reduction at headquarters and within distribution centers.
- Enhanced insights for purchasing: HelloFresh has engaged its category management team to use data generated within Spoiler Alert’s platform to inform procurement decisions that ultimately drive reductions in inventory overages.
“With Spoiler Alert, we have better visibility into the causes and types of surplus ingredients, and we can use this information to be proactive on connecting food with outlets that redistribute it to people before it goes to waste,” notes Ellen Grunewald, Supply Chain Analyst at HelloFresh US.
Nearly 90 percent of HelloFresh's food donations are fresh produce, representing the highest levels of perishability and an important nutritional category for America's food insecure.
“Working with Spoiler Alert has enabled us to double down on our mission to operate a sustainable business that generates great value for our customers and community,” notes Uwe Voss. “Equally important, it’s allowed us to show our employees and our customers that we are invested in the communities we live and work in.”
Spotlight: HelloFresh New Jersey and Table to Table
Table to Table is a community-based food rescue organization that collects prepared and perishable food throughout four northern New Jersey counties to deliver to food insecure populations. Since 2015, Table to Table has collected surplus products from HelloFresh’s Newark, NJ-based distribution center. The partnership has enabled Table to Table to significantly increase food distribution, including the creation of two new mobile food markets that deliver to previously unserved metropolitan areas.
A Table to Table mobile food market delivery operation. Source: Table to Table
“In just the last quarter, we saw a 27 percent increase in food donations from HelloFresh — and it is nutritious items like produce that our clients don’t normally receive,” explains Anthony Math, Director of Food Sourcing and Donor Relations. “Their eyes truly light up when they see that in addition to a peanut butter sandwich or oatmeal, they can also get fresh tomatoes or cucumbers. We think Spoiler Alert has helped to unlock these additional donations.” To accommodate for the increase in food, Table to Table has added an additional pickup day from HelloFresh’s facility.
Volunteers staffing a mobile food market. Source: Table to Table