Quebecers’ appetite for “ready-to-cook” boxes has reached record levels since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest figures from four well-established companies in the market.
In a few months, the Quebec company Cook it saw its number of subscribers drop from 18,000 to 33,000. It had to hire no less than 300 new employees to ensure the preparation and delivery of its boxes, which contain recipes and the foods needed to prepare them.
“This is an increase of almost 80% for our customers,” reports Geneviève Allaire, public relations manager at Cook it.
PHOTO COURTESY / CREDIT: Marï Photographer
The phenomenon is also observed on the side of the Montreal company Marché Goodfood, which received 26,000 new subscribers from March 13, the date marking the start of confinement.
“We had revenues of $ 87 million from March to May, which is an increase of 75% compared to the same period last year,” said director of investor relations, Roslane Aouameur.
The European company Hello Fresh, present in Quebec and Canada, also noted an increase in active customers of 107% in its international market compared to last year.
Containment and teleworking have turned the lives of several Quebec consumers upside down, who wanted to avoid going to stores and turned to online shopping.
Cook it, Goodfood Market and Hello Fresh offer delivery of their boxes directly to customers’ homes.
“We had a lot of people who placed orders to bring this food to people in their family who could not go out,” Ms. Allaire gave as an example.
The trend could go beyond delivery: even at évoilà5, a Quebec company that offers “ready-to-cook” products without delivery, the number of customers has increased in the company’s 12 stores located in the greater Montreal area. and in Sherbrooke.
“People want to eat healthy, they are more at home and they have more time to cook. They don’t want to shop too much, ”said the former Olympian and co-founder of évoilà5, Josée Corbeil.
According to Mr. Aouameur, the “ready to cook” was already very popular before the pandemic, and was already on the way to increase here.
“In Canada compared to other countries we have always been a little behind [pour] getting our groceries and ready-to-cook meals delivered, he said. When you look at England, Western Europe, it’s much more advanced. “
“If the ready-to-cook offer is fresh, if the price is there, if the quality is there, I do not see why it could not just continue,” said Ms. Corbeil for her part.
Subscribing to a “ready to cook” service not only avoids a trip to the grocery store, but also eliminates the mental burden that comes with planning meals, some customers have noted.
Laëtitia Gagnon found that she always ended up cooking the same recipes a bit and wanted variety. “When it’s been two years, you’ve always been making the same recipes, it’s pocket,” explained this resident of the Rosemont neighborhood in Montreal, who works in the field of communications and tourism.
By subscribing to Goodfood’s vegetarian option, Ms. Gagnon gets six meal servings for $ 60 per week, broadened her range of recipes, and found that she reduced her food waste.
“I find that it’s not lazy, I cook anyway,” said the one who also appreciates that the company does business with local producers from Quebec.
Although she was already using the service before the pandemic, Ms. Gagnon said she was happy to have been able to count on contactless delivery during the pandemic.
Also vegetarian, Pascale Pelosse echoed Ms. Gagnon’s words. It is an advertisement on social networks that caught the attention of this mother who lives in Saint-Hubert with her husband and her 13-year-old daughter.
“I told my partner: it’s redundant, it seems that we are always anchored in the same meals every week. I took care of the planning and I was always tired of thinking about making the meal, ”recalled the one who works for the SAQ.
Ms. Pelosse has been a Goodfood Market subscriber for 5 years. The mother says she saved a lot of money, made culinary discoveries and … spared herself headaches.
“For two [portions], we three eat, that satisfies us. Over time, there are recipes that we also prefer, so we order for four […]», She added.
“I worry a lot less for meals, and it costs me less when the week is prepared. It’s very effective, in the time of the pandemic, I found it brilliant, ”she concluded.
It’s not just “ready-to-cook” that’s on the rise: the We Cook company, which offers boxed lunches for people who don’t feel like cooking, has seen sales quadruple since the beginning of the year.
The boxes of this company, established in Quebec for eight years, are also delivered to customers’ homes, but contain ready-to-eat meals: you just have to reheat them.
“We expected this increase towards the end of the year, but with the pandemic, we are in September and we have already generated this progression,” said the co-founder and CEO Étienne Plourde.
Sixty employees have also been hired to meet the demand. “We are currently close to 300 employees if we include the factories in Dorval and Saint-Hyacinthe,” explains Mr. Plourde.
“The market has been accelerated a lot with the pandemic. The sales figures were accelerated by maybe a year or two, it made Canadians aware that it was normal to deliver food to their homes, ”he said.
“People took the chance and said to themselves, while you’re here, now is the time to try. They saw what it was, how the meals arrived in insulated boxes, ”said Mr. Plourde.
The company offers ready-to-eat healthy meals made from lamb, salmon and beef. It aims to develop a range of lunch dishes from 2021, in addition to its healthy snacks.