Insulated packaging made from wool has given a Sydney-based ready meals company a profitable point of difference.
My Muscle Chef founder Tushar Menon, who founded the online meals company with his brother back in 2013, has always been environmentally conscious – but polystyrene foam boxes were the cheapest and most common delivery mode when they started out.
However, while the business was growing, there were consistent complaints from customers about the foam boxes – especially from those who lived in smaller apartments – who said disposing of them was both difficult and environmentally unsound.
But the right alternative wasn't immediately obvious.
“We tried waxed cardboard, but the insulation for the food was not great,” he said.
Then they heard about Woolcool liners, supplied by Planet Protector Packaging. They can be re-used and recycled, are produced using 100 per cent pure wool, and are an insulated packaging solution for perishable goods.
My Muscle Chef brought the Woolcool liners on board in November last year, trialled and tested them for a few months, and has been transitioning packaging across to them since April.
“They provide perfect insulation, and customers are very happy as they are fully recyclable, as are the cardboard boxes," Menon said.
“People care about these kinds of things more now – in many cases one of the first questions customers will ask is 'how do you deliver the food?'.
“This positions our company really well, and shows we're supporting the environment – and matches our commitment to sustainability in other areas, including using grass-fed meats, hormone-free chicken and lamb, and local, freshly sourced fruit and vegetables.”
After successfully making its way into gyms and other franchises across Australia, the brothers have been investing heavily in social media marketing and radio campaigns in 2016. Since then, their ready meals business has quadrupled, with close to 100 staff and nationwide distribution. They move into Western Australia next month, after making inroads into New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia.
Marketing for the healthy ready meals which is targeted at the fitness community, as well as health-conscious consumers looking to lose weight, and athletes. My Muscle Chef sponsors the Bulldogs, Dragons, Roosters and West Tigers, providing their pre-game and post-game meals.
The company also launched into retail in April – prior to that it was online-only. A hundred stores are now stocking the meals, with partners including IGA, Foodworks, BP and other independent stores.
“Our plan is to keep pushing our retail product into the mass market in coming months, and really make a difference in people's lives,” Menon said.