‘Because of corona I got my meal boxes from under the dust’

Due to the corona pandemic, entrepreneur Thierry Peeters rediscovered an old love: meal boxes.

For several weeks now, Peeters has been delivering ready-made meals to customers’ homes via a courier service. They are ready to be eaten after 20 minutes in a warm oven.

Peeters launched his company HNGRY in 2014. ‘Then I didn’t bring my meals home, but sold them in a shop in Antwerp. The online market for fresh food was still minimal. Moreover, it was not about ready-made meals, but the boxes contained the ingredients for the included recipes. The customers had to get started themselves. ‘

Soon after the launch, Peeters was overtaken by the competition. ‘Companies such as Smartmat and HelloFresh started offering meal boxes online and grew quickly. I wanted to see how the market evolved. I put my concept in the fridge and became manager of the Condacum restaurant in Kontich. ‘

We distinguish ourselves from HelloFresh and other initiatives because you do not cook the meals yourself.

Different from the competition

That restaurant had to close temporarily when the corona virus broke out in Belgium a year ago. ‘Then I decided not to just offer take-away meals, but to get the HNGRY concept out of the closet. Unlike in the past, we now make ready-to-eat meals, which we deliver at home throughout Flanders. We distinguish ourselves from HelloFresh and other initiatives because you do not cook the meals yourself. We distinguish ourselves from the prepared meals from the supermarkets because of our smaller-scale and traditional character. ‘

For 49 euros, customers receive a meal box with three meals. ‘For each extra meal extra 10 euros is added.’ Business is going well, according to Peeters. ‘A few hundred meals are sent out every week. We are a start-up, but we are already profitable. ‘ That’s because Peeters can rely on the infrastructure of the restaurant he works for.

But when the catering industry reopens soon, it will be tight in Condacrum’s kitchen and the five chefs will also be needed there. ‘The meal boxes are an initiative of the owners of Condacum and me. We are looking for a new location for HNGRY. We are also looking for additional staff and are going to advertise more. Everything step by step, so that costs remain under control. ‘

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