One-year-old Gousto is a fledgling company with a unique proposition. Consumers order online from a variety of menu options and Gousto delivers dinner kits, complete with recipe cards and all the ingredients, direct to the door. The company, which has expanded rapidly through its own website, has just entered a partnership with online retailer Ocado. Katy Askew spoke to Gousto co-owner Timo Schmidt about the company’s ambitions.

Gousto is a company with a mission. Founded by Timo Schmidt and James Carter last year, it aims to make it easier for busy families to cook healthy, tasty meals from quality ingredients.

Part online retailer, part meal solution provider, the company has rapidly grown its business through its website were consumers select a weekly menu from ten menu options – which change from week-to-week. Gousto delivers the ready-to-cook meal components and recipe cards throughout the UK.

Speaking to just-food today (27 August), co-founder and co-owner Schmidt suggests that the company has hit on a trifecta of elements that meet the needs of time-poor consumers: quality, value and convenience. This, he says, makes Gousto a “real alternative to supermarkets and restaurants”.

“James and I started Gousto one year ago to overcome our own everyday issue of not being able to cook delicious and healthy meals with quality ingredients. When you live a busy life, running after toddlers and working long hours, it’s difficult to cook beyond the six dish repertoire. Supermarket meals, pizza delivery and ready meals are full of additives and hidden stuff, and they cost quite a bit,” he suggests.

“Gousto is all about making home cooking with natural ingredients easy. Quality matters a lot – remember the horse meat scandal – so we only work with a number of farms we trust, and all our veg is organic.”

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Focusing on quality and traceability at a time when consumers are growingly concerned about issues of provenance, Gousto sources all of its ingredients direct from farms and the company has built up a relationship with the farmers with whom it works.

“It’s 100% traceable. Gousto sources all its meat from a farm in Devon, the fish comes from Scotland and our veg is organic and accredited by the Soil Association. We know all of our farmers really well and know that they share our passion for natural food free of additives, animal welfare and sustainable farming.”

Perhaps most importantly, Gousto makes it really easy to cook good food.

“Every week, our team of chefs develop ten recipes, so you only eat what you really like. We tell you the time it will take to cook, the calories, country of origin and more important information so you can always cook according to your preferences.

“We have a pretty rigorous production process: first, our chefs are suggesting new ideas taking into account seasonality. Then we test cook the recipe once and the entire team gets to comment on it. Then our sourcing team gets involved to make sure we can actually get all the ingredients. Then we do four more rounds of test cooking, including team test cooking, to make absolutely sure that the recipe works in various kitchens and homes.”

And, perhaps surprisingly for what seems an up-market concept, Schmidt insists that Gousto also offers good value for money. “At GBP4-7 per portion, the price is pretty good, delivery is free and you don’t have to worry about any food waste. There’s no comparable offering at the moment, and our customers are very loyal because we focus on quality so much.”

Schmidt emphasises that part of the value-for-money proposition comes from the fact that Gousto’s pre-measured portions help tackle the related issue food waste. “Over 10% of food is wasted, so the average person looses GBP1,000 per year on food waste, which is very sad.”

While the “vast majority” of Gousto’s business comes through its own website, the company recently entered into a partnership agreement with Ocado that sees a limited menu selection offered to Ocado customers. While Ocado’s offering is limited, it offers greater flexibility when it comes to delivery – making Gousto’s products available to a broader assortment of consumers.

“Our Gousto boxes have sold out every day so far on Ocado and it’s great to know that their customers like our recipes,” Schmidt says.

Schmidt expects Gousto to benefit from the continued growth of the online retail space which, she says is “doubling in size every few years” – despite an economy that is not in growth.

“We are all undergoing a seismic shift from grocery shopping offline to online. I think in 20 years you and I will look back and laugh about how we did shopping back in 2013. I believe that Gousto’s value proposition – great recipes, quality, and convenience – will be of growing  importance today and over the next 20 years.”

As Gousto looks to leverage its unique proposition in the growing online grocery market in the UK, the company is working to develop its offering.

“We are 100% committed to… turning Gousto into a strong household brand that’s loved by customers. Customer experience is everything to us, and we are working hard to improve it continuously. We will introduce a lot of new features to the customer experience over the next year, to make sure that the experience gets better and better.”

While Gousto is currently bent on UK expansion, Schmidt sees potential for the company to expand internationally. “Gousto makes life so much easier and cooking more fun, so it’s easy to see how this could work outside the UK.”