Innovation and Local Procurement: A Recipe for Success for Cook it and the Fonds
Now a well-known Montreal-based company, Cook it has been on the upswing for the past few years. The Fonds de solidarité FTQ is proud to have made a new investment that will allow Cook it to keep up with its impressive growth.
With innovation at the heart of its DNA, Cook it launched Canada's first ready-to-eat meal kit in 2014. For Judith Fetzer, the company's president and co-founder, her product was first and foremost an answer to one of her own needs: to eat well without the hassle. But her goal was mostly to do so without wasting a ton of food. "We wanted to revolutionize the way people eat with an innovative business model. Seven years later, we can say that Cook it has been an important player in this change thanks to two important corporate values: customer experience and innovation," she explains.
To level up, Judith Fetzer started looking for investors last year.
"I was preparing my pitch and with the Fonds, it felt natural," says the businesswoman, "Cook it's way of doing things and our many common values set the tone for this great collaboration."
The relationship between the SME and the Fonds was therefore built on a solid foundation. "Their enthusiasm and creativity greatly inspired our team, as did their desire to deliver a product in line with our local procurement values," said Patrice Jolivet, Vice-President of Investments, Private Equity and Impact Investments in the agri-food sector at Fonds de solidarité FTQ, about the team behind Cook it.
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*Audio interview in French only, but English subtitles available.
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Innovation at the Heart of Cook it's Priorities
With a newly acquired investment of $10 million, Cook it is giving itself the means to pursue its ambitions, notably by introducing multiple innovations. "When talking about innovation, one can think about automation and technological advances, but one can also think about the product itself, its presentation and its marketing. Today, companies have no choice but to innovate to remain competitive," says Patrice Jolivet. The integration of robotization and automated processes will allow the company to increase its production capacity while also offering their employees jobs with a greater value. In fact, by automating various tasks—ranging from food portioning to box assembly—the humans behind Cook it can focus on other activities that may be more interesting or rewarding for them.
This investment also enables Cook it to add a brand new industrial kitchen to its assets and to launch its own product line of fresh, delicious and hand-made ready-to-eat meals. "Our own chefs are now in charge of the ready-to-eat menu and this allows us to have better control over the product's quality while also ensuring that it is in line with our vision and values," says Judith Fetzer.
Cook it is committed to improving its waste management and packaging practices. That is why part of the Fonds' investment will also help Cook it relaunch its reusable cooler project, which was started in 2019 but was shelved due to, among other things, COVID-related hygiene concerns. As a result, some 200 customers in the Montreal area will be able to recieve their Cook it order in a reusable cooler equipped with ice packs. "Within the next two years, our goal is to serve 50 to 75% of our customers throughout Montreal, the North Shore and the South Shore with this initiative," explains the company’s president.
Local Procurement: Cook it's Mantra
While this investment benefits Cook it, it is undeniable that it also generates a positive impact on a larger scale. Indirectly, a host of local producers also benefit from this injection of capital into the ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook company. By favouring local and responsible sourcing, Cook it buys a large part of its ingredients from Quebec companies and thus fulfills its commitment to fill its meal boxes with at least 50% of local products.
"Cook it is a product made by and for local people. The Fonds' team is proud to support a company that encourages its local economy through its decisions and actions," says Patrice Jolivet.
The company has also set up the Garde-manger initiative which offers a weekly selection of over 120 Canadian products to the recipients of the Cook it boxes. The Fonds is therefore creating a chain of positive impact through financing.
With this investment, the Fonds is supporting a team of visionaries who know how to play their cards right with innovation, in addition to putting a homegrown success that promotes local supply in the spotlight. That's what we call the Fonds' double impact.
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PODCAST Ep. 01 (in French) – It's time for Québec companies to make the green shift
L'autonomie alimentaire du Québec est souhaitable sur les plans économique, social et environnemental, à condition qu'elle puisse être transmise aux générations futures, expliquent deux experts du Fonds de solidarité FTQ.