VEVEY, SWITZERLAND — Nestle SA has acquired US meals group Freshly Inc. in a $950 million deal.

Launched in 2015, Freshly’s subscription-based model offers meal plans to consumers with a rotating menu of better-for-you dishes, including gluten-free and low sugar versions of classic comfort foods. It currently ships meals to more than one million customers per week and is forecasted to reach $430 million in sales in 2020.

The deal brings together Nestle’s research and development capabilities with Freshly’s specialized consumer analytics and distribution platform, said Steve Presley, chairman and chief executive officer of Nestle USA.

“Consumers are embracing e-commerce and eating at home like never before,” he said. “It's an evolution brought on by the pandemic but taking hold for the long term. Freshly is an innovative, fast-growing, food-tech startup, and adding them to the portfolio accelerates our ability to capitalize on the new realities in the US food market.”

Nestle in 2017 acquired a 16% stake in Freshly to evaluate and test the direct-to-consumer prepared meal channel. The investment helped Freshly expand its service nationwide with a new East Coast test kitchen and distribution center. Jeff Hamilton, president of Nestle USA’s food division, joined Freshly’s board of directors as part of the initial investment.

“We are extremely excited to expand our relationship with Nestle,” said Michael Wystrach, CEO of Freshly. “Convenience and nutrition are driving forces in the future of food, and our becoming a part of the world's largest food company confirms that. With Nestle, we will have access to resources, research and development, and years of experience that we can tap into to catapult our growth plans and move closer to our goal of being in every household in America.”

Freshly plans to work with Nestle to increase menu variety by tripling its number of weekly meals, he added.