Business & Real Estate

This startup offers to fill your cart like a ‘fairy godmother and personal nutritionist’ in one

PlateJoy is a San Francisco-based personalized nutrition service provider that offers its members customized food recommendations, cooking instructions and access to a nutritionist.
PlateJoy is a San Francisco-based personalized nutrition service provider that offers its members customized food recommendations, cooking instructions and access to a nutritionist. PlateJoy

Two San Francisco companies have partnered to deliver groceries customized to the health needs of their Sacramento-area customers.

The PlateJoy-Instacart service was tested in 20 cities nationwide.

Instacart, on Friday began teaming up with personalized nutrition service provider PlateJoy to offer same-day delivery of groceries tailored to individual nutrition requests. Instacart launched its internet-based grocery-delivery service in the Sacramento area in March, reaching about 360,000 residents.

PlateJoy spent three years developing technology that takes an individual’s nutrition data and goals and formulates personalized weekly menus and shopping lists. PlateJoy said it employs 50 data points for individual preferences and health goals to determine what users should be eating to reach those goals. Recipes and shopping lists are tailored to each customer, who enter their information via the PlateJoy website.

Combining grocery delivery with a nutrition product is the natural next step in helping people make healthy decisions when they’re short on time.

Christina Bognet, PlateJoy founder and CEO

Access to a “personal nutrition coach” also is part of the deal. PlateJoy’s “digital pantry” monitors the items users currently have in their kitchens, with a goal of cutting down on food waste.

The collaboration with Instacart enables PlateJoy users to order customized groceries seven days a week via Instacart’s delivery service from area stores that include the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, Safeway and Costco.

“With 70 percent of the country overweight or obese and food allergies increasing by 50 percent over the last 10 years, we now know that what you eat directly affects how you feel,” said Christina Bognet, the 29-year-old CEO who founded PlateJoy three years ago. “Translating that knowledge into making the right choices at the grocery store is hard. Combining grocery delivery with a nutrition product is the natural next step in helping people make healthy decisions when they’re short on time.”

Bognet’s background goes beyond the classic technology-mogul-under-30 story. Back in 2009, she was finishing up her junior year in pre-med at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and became alarmed that unhealthy food choices had put her in the obese weight range. She recalled from her studies in neuroscience and biology that most diets fail, and she also realized that she was eating too much take-out food and fattening desserts.

Her solution was to have “fresh, healthy food on hand at all times,” prompting her to eat more-nutritious meals. She subsequently lost 50 pounds and hatched the template for what would become PlateJoy.

Now she says the PlateJoy-Instacart collaboration “is the equivalent of your fairy godmother and your personal nutritionist grocery shopping for you every week, magically placing the right things in your fridge and sending recipes and nutritional support to your phone.”

The PlateJoy-Instacart service was tested in 20 cities nationwide in 2016 and is now spreading to Sacramento and other markets. That effort has been helped along by $400 million in new, recently announced funding for Instacart.

The partnership competes directly with providers such as New York-based Blue Apron Inc., which delivers millions of meals monthly nationwide. Officials of both Instacart and PlateJoy acknowledge the success of similar startups but believe their emphasis on tight packaging, a wide variety of foods and accommodating specific health and dietary needs will help the partnership stand out from the crowd.

In its Sacramento-area launch in March, Instacart said its doorstep deliveries included groceries from Safeway, Whole Foods Market, Costco, Petco, Smart & Final and Cash & Carry, servicing residents in in Sacramento, West Sacramento, Rocklin, El Dorado Hills, Folsom, Fair Oaks, Rancho Cordova, Roseville and Citrus Heights.

PlateJoy users pay $69 for six-month membership access to services that include customized food recommendations, cooking instructions and access to a nutritionist.

Instacart fees start as low as about $4 for non-rush orders, but higher fees are based the size of the order and delivery time. The company also offers “Instacart Express” packages geared to regular users of deliveries of more than $35. This fee is in addition to the PlateJoy membership.

More details can be found at instacart.com and platejoy.com.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

  Comments