Case Study: Gousto - Creating a Cause to Tackle a Worldwide Problem

Latest figures show that as a nation the UK throws away £13 billion of food each year. It’s a shocking figure and one with far-reaching repercussions. Not only is it increasing our grocery bills by an estimated £470 for the average household but it also has a negative impact on the planet with the avoidable food waste contributing 19 million tonnes of greenhouse gases over its lifetime.

So why is food wastage so prevalent? There are several factors.  Supermarket deals that entice us to buy more than we can eat. Good intentions that make us pick up that bag of salad that we’ll never get around to eating. Busy schedules that see us reaching for the takeaway menu despite having a fridge full of ingredients. There are many factors contributing to our food wastage problem.  Of course, nobody sets out to create food waste. But with busy lives, it’s often hard to avoid. One company that’s determined to help consumers cut their food wastage is the recipe kit subscription service Gousto.

Introducing Gousto

Gousto is a British online grocery service that provides recipe kit boxes to subscribers. Each box includes fresh ingredients with meat, fish and vegetables, along with a step-by-step recipe guide allowing customers to quickly and easily create healthy, home-cooked meals. And as all the ingredients provided are measured out in the quantities needed, nothing is wasted. Consumers love the convenience of having all the ingredients needed to make a particular dish and because they’ve eliminated wastage, Gousto claims they can reduce customers’ shopping bills while helping the planet by cutting food waste.

Gousto was created in 2011 by friends Timo Boldt and James Carter. They developed the idea for a recipe kit service after finding that their busy lives made it difficult to cook healthy meals without wasting food. Speaking on the inspiration for the business Boldt says:

“I love cooking, but like many people I work extremely long hours and don’t have time to shop for ingredients – and even when I do, I waste half of them.

“It’s wrong that so much food ends up in the bin and that’s how the initial idea to create Gousto came about: by delivering all the ingredients to people in exact portion sizes there is little waste – last year we prevented 120 tonnes of food from being thrown away.”

Boldt and Carter tested their idea by selling pre-portioned recipe kits on a market stall. Following the success of this trial, they secured investment to create their online venture, receiving over £250,000 in investment from the British Business Bank and a group of private angel investors.

Today the company has over 100 employees and delivers almost 100,000 meals to customers each week across the UK.

How it Works

The model for Gousto is incredibly simple. Customers create an account and then select a delivery day along with four recipes for either two or four people. The kits with all the pre-portioned ingredients are then delivered to the customer. Deliveries can be scheduled for any day of the week between 8am and 7pm. As the target audience is mainly busy professionals, Gousto has overcome the concern customers may have about not being home when the delivery arrives. They will leave the delivery in a pre-arranged safe place and by using ice packs and special packaging materials, the food will stay cool.

Customers can pause their subscription at any time – for example if they are going away on holiday. And up until three days before the scheduled delivery, customers can log into the website to choose their recipes for the week. The recipes change constantly, ensuring variety and choice for the customer. The box arrives with all the key ingredients needed to cook up to four fresh and healthy meals – only store cupboard staples such as oil, salt and pepper might need to be added.

Aligned to a cause

There are many ways in which Gousto could have positioned their business. They could have focussed on the money-saving aspect. Or they could have made the key message the convenience or taste benefits of the recipe box. These are all factors that appeal to consumers and are incorporated in the company’s message. But what really makes Gousto interesting is that it supports a broader cause that impacts everyone – cutting food waste.

Through their website, Gousto clearly communicates its commitment to cutting food waste. And to further support their cause, Gousto has partnered with the Love Food Hate Waste organisation which raises awareness of the need to reduce food waste, working with partners such as Gousto to help tackle the problem.

Of course, as discussed in my article on building a business around a cause, when creating a cause, it’s important that all your activities align with the ethos and intentions of your cause. As such, Gousto has ensured that all its business operations are fair and ethical. Gousto works closely with suppliers to ensure quality and traceability across all their ingredients and to make sure that suppliers are treated fairly. They also donate money to relevant initiatives such as supporting food banks. As a result, Gousto’s customers are passionate about the brand and users of the service regularly take to social media to post pictures of their recipe boxes and dishes.

More exciting than visiting a supermarket, the Gousto experience and the knowledge that they are supporting a positive cause has created a league of brand ambassadors keen to promote the brand. And Gousto’s popularity has seen the company enjoying up to 900 per cent year-on-year growth. The company is continuing to grow and has big ambitions for the future. As Boldt says:

“We want to build a household name in the UK, we want to innovate the market and be known as the recipe company.”