LYFE Kitchens founder Steve Sidwell knew nothing about the grocery retail market, but he knew what demand was. Sidwell, who said he’d struggled with finding healthy, quick meals for years and battled weight issues as a result, was looking for a good tasting, healthy, quick meal plan that he could stock up in his fridge. The options on the market were mostly tailored toward weight loss to the detriment of good taste or actual health, and Sidwell saw opportunity.
LYFE, which stands for Love Your Food Everyday, is centered on three main principles: taste, taste, and taste. Their menu reflects the commitment to those principles. Whole grain pilaf, farmer’s market frittata, and whole grain penne pasta with turkey meatballs are some of their more popular sellers.
LYFE Kitchens was one of the food vendors at the Wanderlust Festival at Turtle Bay Resort, north shore of Oahu, which is where I learned about them. Naturally, my questions for marketing director Vice President of Marketing Brendan McDonald revolved around kale.
“You know,” said McDonald, “everyone knows you’re supposed to eat kale, but it’s a challenge for a lot of people. How do you cook it? How do you prep it so that it’s not just nutritious but also tastes great?” LYFE incorporates vegetables like kale, whole grains, and humanely raised meats into its cuisine. It labels all its meals with caloric and nutritive information, and is committed to getting certified by the Non-GMO project.
When you look at the competition in the field, it’s no wonder that Sidwell’s foresight has been rewarded. The industry leader, Lean Cuisine, is full of GMOs and processed junk. As people become educated about their food, they tend to steer clear of these kinds of ingredients, and when a company like Lyfe, a more socially responsible company, comes along and gives them an alternative filled with whole grains, vegetables, and other nutritious ingredients, they switch brands. Their options at that point are higher end organic brands like Amy’s, an organic brand with premium flavor, and middle of the road competitors like LYFE. LYFE, according to McDonald, is about 60% organic ingredients, focusing on the ingredients that can be organic without breaking the bank, in order to give people better nutrition for about a dollar over the Lean Cuisine type options.
That, and as McDonald says, the focus on taste is critical. LYFE Kitchens is now in 1600 grocery stores and growing fast. McDonald expects them to be in 7,000 grocery stores within the next year, having formed partnerships with Kroger, Costco, Publix, and many of the nations’ largest grocers.