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Six great concepts to learn from - healthier food-to-go

We see a growing number of healthier food-to-go concepts emerging, and an expanding opportunity for scaleable growth. Here we share six of our favourites to take inspiration from.

Crussh, London

With three core areas of focus around raw juices, fit food and smart coffee, Crussh has gone from strength to strength in recent years. A leader in the healthier food-to-go field, it is increasingly building from its traditional London high street presence into more alternative locations, including fitness centres, hospitals and workplaces. It has c. 35 stores right now, but continues to grow, not least through a partnership with Sodexo, which is targeting up to 35 sites within a five year period. Food innovation runs through the business, as does a willingness to experiment with new ingredients. Needless to say, there's a strong focus towards plant-based options, along with a well-signposted menu and signage to cater for customers with allergens or special diets.

Kauai, Netherlands and South Africa

Kauai is a relatively recent arrival in Europe, having only opened its first site, at Utrecht station, last year, following on from strong growth in South Africa. It’s a healthier oriented concept, with a focus on natural ingredients, superfoods and freshness. With c. 150 sites in Africa, it is a proven franchise concept. At the same time as moving into Europe, a similar expansion is under way in Thailand. A focus on superfood and protein smoothies and cold pressed juices, wraps and hot and cold bowls feeds into a focus across a variety of day parts and missions.

Dr Smood, New York and Miami

Underpinned by a desire to be ‘the healthiest café concept ever', Dr Smood combines great interiors with a welcoming in-store environment and an enticing and inspiring menu. Beyond the range of tasty healthy food and drink on offer, perhaps its best feature however is how it takes its menu further, segmenting the menu by ‘moods’ (aka needs states or missions) as part of its broader product selection system. Nutritional expertise is brought out strongly as a core tenet of its proposition, while organic, fresh and plant-based are key menu themes. Superfoods underpin many menu items, and a current trial in two sites is exploring the potential of a new Performance menu, designed to push the nutritional benefit element of the proposition further in what it's calling Dr Smood 2.0.

Sweetgreen, US

Sweetgreen is for us the pick of a broad selection of healthy eating, salad oriented chains in the US. Fresh, local and healthy ingredients lie at its core, aligned to a wider range of factors that contribute to a healthy planet. Healthy communities is definitely a focus, with a real emphasis on local sourcing lying at the heart of the proposition. Seasonality too, plays a big role, and it’s one of a very select few operators that use seasonality to drive not just their menu but also their broader marketing and promotional activity. The way that chalk boards are used in store to highlight the local farmers supplying the store that day, alongside the distance to each farm, impresses in communicating on both sustainability and transparency.

Copper Branch, Canada, the US, France and Belgium

Globally influenced, plant-based, healthier cuisine sits at the heart of this fast casual concept. Founder Rio Infantino set up the business in 2014, and has rapidly expanded to over 50 sites across Canada, with additional sites having opened in the past year in the US, France and Belgium. Affordable, accessible vegan options lie at the heart of what Copper Branch is all about. And with much more ambition to grow beyond its current state, this is definitely one to watch.

Simple Health Kitchen, London

As a business model, it’s not hugely different from other London operators such as Farmer J’s and Farmstand, both of which are also well worth taking inspiration from. And all three have been growing based on credentials around healthier food and provenance in a vein similar to that of Sweetgreen in the US, albeit to date on a much smaller scale. While Farmer J and Farmstand are both standout for their excellent provenance and freshness credentials, Simple Health Kitchen has a more overt healthier eating focus, with signage and staff designed very much around helping customers to make more informed choices about what they eat. Founded by former professional rugby player and trainer Brandon Hill, the business trades from three sites in London, and is currently crowdfunding to drive the next stage of its expansion.

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Image source: Food Futures Insights, Copper Branch, Dr Smood


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