Mindful Chef, the UK recipe-box delivery firm, has reportedly attracted takeover interest from local retailer The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) and Nestlé, the world’s largest food manufacturer.

On Saturday (12 September), Sky News reported Nestlé and JLP, the owner of upmarket UK grocer Waitrose, are competing to acquire Mindful Chef, the London-based meal-kits supplier.

Approached by just-food for a reaction to the report and to confirm whether Nestlé is interested in acquiring Mindful Chef, a spokesperson for the Nespresso and KitKat owner said: “We don’t comment on market rumours and speculation.”

A spokesperson for the John Lewis Partnership said the retailer does not comment on “commercially sensitive matters”, adding: “We’re conducting a strategic review, and as part of that we’re considering a number of commercial opportunities.”

Speaking to Sky News, Mindful Chef, set up in 2015 by Devon friends Myles Hopper, Giles Humphries and Rob Greig-Gran, said it had announced in May it was starting a Series B fundraising round. The company added there had been an “unprecedented increase” in its sales since the onset of Covid-19 and it expects sales to hit GBP50m (US$64.2m) in 2020, up from GBP16m last year.

“Mindful Chef can confirm that on the back of its successful results there has been a great deal of interest,” the firm told the broadcaster. It said the fundraising round “is still progressing and no party is in exclusivity”.

just-food has approached Mindful Chef for comment.

Recipe-box companies have drawn interest from food manufacturers and retailers in recent years, even before Covid-19 gave a boost to the fledgling sector.

Unilever is among the companies to have invested in another UK meal-kit business, Gousto.

In 2018, Kroger, one of the largest grocers in the US, snapped up Home Chef, then the country’s largest meal-kit company.

Last December, Metro Inc., one of Canada’s largest food retailers, offloaded MissFresh, a local meal-kit firm in which it first invested two years earlier, to another meal-delivery business.

just-food analysis: Beyond Covid-19 – can meal kits deliver long-term growth?