Unilever leads $9 million investment in meal kit startup Sun Basket

A meal kit startup with a focus on healthful recipes and organic ingredients, Sun Basket, has just raised $9 million in series C-2 round of venture funding led by Unilever Ventures, with Baseline Ventures and Founders Circle Capital joining the round. The investment brings the startup’s total capital raised to-date to $52 million.

Sun Basket delivers recipes and pre-measured ingredients to customers who follow a gluten-free, paleo or vegetarian diet. Executive Chef Justine Kelly, of Slanted Door and Iron Chef fame, is the culinary genius behind the company’s recipes.

Sun Basket CEO and co-founder Adam Zbar said the company recently opened a facility in the Midwest that allows it to deliver meal kits to 98% of the U.S. He said that makes Sun Basket the biggest direct-to-consumer organic food provider in the country.

The meal kit makers intend to use their new funding to ramp up marketing and scale operations even further, Zbar said. Sunbasket is also investigating new packaging materials and planning a design change to some of its packaging.

While Sun Basket uses boxes, bags and insulation that are one hundred percent recyclable and compostable to ship perishable goods, many of its customers are environmentally conscious. The company continuously seeks to lower the “footprint” of its products.

Investors from Unilever Ventures were not immediately available to comment they lauded Sun Basket’s customer loyalty (i.e. low churn rate) in a press statement.┬áBased on analysis using Unilever’s credit card data management platform, Second Measure, and Sun Basket’s own internal data, Zbar said “We believe we have up to three times the retention rate of other players in this space, looking at revenue over a period of 24 months.”

Meal kit competitors like Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh, Purple Carrot and Good Eggs have not disclosed details about their churn rates so far. Other meal kit makers including Chef’d and Salted, offer kits a la carte, without a requirement for a long-term subscription.