Nestlé to acquire majority stake in recipe box firm Mindful Chef

Coronavirus has accelerated business for health-focused Mindful Chef, which expects sales of over £50m this year

Nestlé has agreed to acquire a majority stake in recipe box delivery firm Mindful Chef, after Waitrose fell out of the running, as it boosts its food offerings in the UK and Ireland. 

Business for the subscription-based recipe box brand has soared during lockdown as people have been forced to stay at home. Mindful Chef said it expects sales of over £50m this year, up from £8m since its series A funding by consumer-focused private equity firm Piper in 2018.

Terms of the series B funding deal by Nestlé were not disclosed, though it is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Mindful Chef's three founders - school friends Giles Humphries, Myles Hopper and Rob Grieg-Gran - will remain shareholders and continue to run the brand. Some existing shareholders will retain a stake but Piper, which invested £6m, will exit the business.

It is also backed Sir Andy Murray, Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton and former English rugby player Will Greenwood, having initially gone through two rounds of crowdfunding. 

Giles Humphries, Mindful Chef co-founder, said: “We owe a great deal to these early investors who backed our vision to make healthy eating easy for hundreds of thousands of people across the UK, and it is with great pleasure that we can now reward these investors for their support.”

Since being founded in 2015, the start up has delivered 9.5m meals. It offers customers 16 recipes per week to choose from, delivered as meal-kits, with a "mission of making healthy eating easy".

Nestlé's acquisition comes after the John Lewis Partnership, which owns Waitrose, had been in talks to buy Mindful Chef before bowing out last month after exclusive negotiations began with Nestlé.

Stefano Agostini, chief executive officer of Nestlé UK & Ireland, said: “Nestlé and Mindful Chef share an ambition to increase the availability and convenience of healthy food while paying close attention to how ingredients are sourced and reducing food waste. It means this is an ideal partnership for both parties as Nestlé continues to transform its portfolio and Mindful Chef accelerates its growth plans.”

He added that Mindful Chef gives customers "a trustworthy proposition that makes healthy eating easy through a direct-to-consumer subscription model".

Last week Nestle announced it would buy the rest of New York-based meal subscriptions firm Freshly, having already held a minority 16pc stake for three years, in a deal worth up to $1.5bn (£1.14bn).