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Fresh N’ Lean Eyes Billion-Dollar Status

Meal prep and delivery company Fresh N’ Lean started out in the apartment of founder Laureen Asseo in 2010. Today, Anaheim’s fastest-growing company said sales could soon surpass $1 billion.

Fresh N’ Lean, at $100 million in revenue for the 12 months through June 30, is Orange County’s second fastest-growing private company in the large category of firms—those with revenue of $100 million or more, according to the Business Journal’s latest rankings, which is the centerpiece of this week’s Special Report starting on page 29.

The company’s sales for the period reflect growth of 276% from the year-ago period.

Now, to accommodate the company’s future expansion, Fresh N’ Lean late last month announced plans to open a 170,000-square-foot production facility in Las Vegas early next year. The company said the facility, which would employ 650, would increase production to more than 3 million meals per week and could help it reach $1.5 billion in annual sales.

“As a family-owned business, my brother and I are committed to significantly increasing our productivity with the new facility, without sacrificing quality or taste, so our meals are available to meet the exponentially growing demand,” Asseo, who is also co-CEO with brother Thomas Asseo, said in a statement announcing the new facility.

The company’s current base in Anaheim runs 55,000 square feet.

Asseo started the company in her apartment in 2010 with the concept of bringing healthy prepared meals directly to people’s homes.

Today, the company said it offers more than 100 organic options for keto, paleo, vegan, protein and vegetarian diets.

Meal Prep’s Surge

Many meal prep companies, already on a trajectory, saw sales balloon even more with last year’s pandemic.

Fresh N’ Lean remained open during the COVID-19 lockdown as an essential business and focused at that time on boosting awareness around its food safety measures as some consumers sought out meal delivery options to avoid grocery stores or fast-food takeout.

Thomas Asseo told the Business Journal last year—the company also placed high on last year’s fast-growing list, but in the medium-sized company category—the pandemic helped grow the company’s sales by about 15% and pushed average order sizes up by about 5%.

The global meal kit delivery market totaled $10.3 billion last year with a projected compound annual growth rate of 13% through 2028, according to Grand View Research.

In Orange County, Irvine-based Taylor Made Cuisine is another fast grower, offering meal delivery and also catering services. Other local players in the meal prep delivery service space include Fullerton-based On-Season Meals, Orange in-store and online meal prep and juice purveyor Black Market Meal Prep and Healthy and Fresh Meal Prep in Santa Ana.

Focus on the Athlete

Fresh N’ Lean’s position in the market has changed over time as the company’s grown.

Its marketing went from grassroots efforts and search engine optimization online when the company launched, to a focus on partnerships with athletes, including Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, race car driver Danica Patrick, snowboarder Jamie Anderson, surfer Billy Kemper and pro skateboarder Elliot Sloan.

Turner was last month named Fresh N’ Lean’s head of sports wellness to help develop a Whole30-inspired meal plan.

The elimination-style diet known as Whole30 cuts things like alcohol, sugar, grains and dairy among other items for 30 days and has been called a “reset” program for the body.

“If we’re trying to vehicle the idea that food is fuel and that applies to all of us, you and me just as much as a top-level athlete, then this concept seems to be really fitting for us,” Thomas Asseo told the Business Journal last year in talking about the company’s athlete sponsorships.

At the time, Fresh N’ Lean had just inked a four-year sponsorship with the Anaheim Ducks, making the company a presenting sponsor of the Ducks Training Camp along with branding at the Honda Center among other places.

To continue the momentum around the company’s marketing efforts as it grows, Fresh N’ Lean also said late last month it has begun a search for a chief marketing officer to work with the company’s sponsored athletes and its overall marketing efforts. 

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