Eat My Lunch goes to the supermarket

Digest these numbers: 

  • 5,500 meals
  • 75 schools
  • 820 workplaces
  • 6 supermarkets

They sum up Eat My Lunch’s daily operation at the end of April and the numbers will surely be a lot higher in a month or two.

Eat My Lunch must be one of New Zealand’s fastest growing consumer businesses, as well as its biggest success story yet in the realm of social enterprise.

Each working day, Eat My Lunch prepares and delivers high quality lunches and also breakfasts, “tea time” food and dinners to customers in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington.  Each sale also funds lunch for a Kiwi child in need a healthy lunch made fresh each morning by Eat My Lunch volunteers and delivered to the child’s school by noon.

Schools are nominated by their local communities. The individually boxed lunches, breakfasts, dinners and afternoon teas are delivered to the schools, and to the paying customers within clearly delineated territories, using Eat My Lunch’s own car fleet or commercial couriers.

Other April numbers for Eat My Lunch: 40 employees based in central Auckland and Wellington, 35 volunteers making GIVER lunches working from 6:30am to 9am, and around 400km travelled in deliveries on the average day.


Eat My Lunch’s BUY ONE. GIVE ONE™ model has taken off since launch in mid 2015. Cofounder and Director Iaan Buchanan foresees high growth continuing month by month, this year and beyond.

“Our goal is ultimately to be ‘giving’ 25,000 children a lunch every school day. That’s the widely accepted scale of the need across New Zealand. Today we’re doing around 2,700 GIVE lunches in Auckland, Wellington and Hamilton. Right now, we could be giving 10,000 lunches in Auckland alone, so the growth potential is huge.”

This unique form of social enterprise (in New Zealand, anyway) is the brain child of Iaan, with 25 years’ previous marketing and operational management experience in FMCG, and of Lisa King, also a very experienced FMCG marketer. Iaan and Lisa partnered with high profile chef Michael Meredith to promote the business initially through its website and on social media. Growth started immediately with the first week’s 50/day “buy lunches” becoming 200/day in week two.

New World

Sales were all online until last October when Eat My Lunch was also launched into New World supermarkets. This, after Foodstuffs North Island joined as a shareholder and injected new capital to help fund the extraordinary growth. By the end of April, Eat My Lunch products were available through six New Worlds and several independent cafes, all in Auckland.

Iaan says by joining GS1, he was no stranger to GTINs and barcodes and it was an obvious step when moving to become a supermarket supplier.  The BUY lunch menus could not be so flexible from day to day, and packaging had to be enlivened with more artwork, nutrition information and scanability at point of sale.  Before this, says Iaan, Eat My Lunch was effectively a business to business operation with orders only taken online and meals dispatched to workplaces in plain boxes.

“Selling at retail is a distinctly different form of business from our online channel. Supply chain arrangements are more complex, and we have to make sure of consistency in every incidence of the product and its packaging,” Iaan says. Growth in online sales shows no signs of slowing (annualised the rate is 70%) and Iaan expects that to continue.

So why move to the supermarkets? “We want to sell as many lunches as we can because that enables us to keep growing our ‘GIVE lunch’ numbers. it makes sense to have as many sales channels as we can manage,” Iaan says. “Being in retail outlets gives us the ability to pick up impulse buyers who aren’t otherwise coming to us online.”

Future growth

He expects high sales growth in an increasing number of Auckland supermarkets and plans to be supplying in New Worlds in the Wellington area by the end of 2018. ”Foodstuffs have around 130 significantly sized stores throughout the North Island and at some point, I’d like to think we will be distributing to them all.”

With the rise of Eat My Lunch as a retail brand and with its sheer volumes of growth, Iaan says the business will eventually move to greater use of GS1 standards for inventory and logistics management.

In fact, the need for scanning has been low to date because of the unique business model and food ingredients are bought fresh every day and used within 48 hours (mostly within 24 hours), and the meals are all gone on their day of preparation. Iaan expects to take his next steps soon by applying GS1 numbering and barcodes to cartons of product for dispatch to New Worlds. 

Eat My Lunch has, it seems, plenty of potential to chew on!

Eat My Lunch Limited NZBN 9429041461587