Meal kit and food delivery company Home Chef has opened a new manufacturing and distribution center in Baltimore, its first location on the East Coast.
The facility in Wagner’s Point in South Baltimore will add about 600 jobs to Baltimore, said Home Chef chief operating officer Scott Fratzke at a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday.
“It’s going to be our flagship facility once it gets started up,” said Fratzke, who noted that Monday marked the first day of production for the building. The center will also be Home Chef’s largest facility by volume once it is fully up and running.
Home Chef has facilities in California, Georgia, and Illinois, but Baltimore’s facility will be their largest by volume, accounting for more than 30% of the company’s nationwide deliveries.
Erik Jensen, Home Chef’s chief executive officer, said this new location will allow the company to provide better service to its East Coast customers.
“Being on the East Coast and close to our customers means that we’re going to have more delicious food that’s fresher for a quarter of our customers, and that’s awesome, that’s really what we’re here for, to make our customers’ lives easier,” he said. “We’re going to cut out hundreds of miles of transportation between where the meals are produced and where they get delivered for our customers.”
The center will serve about 200,000 customers every week, or about one quarter of Home Chef’s customers, Fratzke said.
The large space at the Baltimore manufacturing and distribution center will also allow the company to expand its offerings, Jensen said.
“Our customers love variety, and having more space lets us have bigger menus, have more choices, serve more diets, veggie, keto, paleo, are some of the more recent ones we’ve added,” he said.
“[T]his is a state-of-the-art facility, so … we can innovate and provide new things that we don’t do today to our customers,” he added. “I’m really excited to open up a kitchen here so that we can cook ingredients and deliver meals that people don’t even have to prepare at home.”
Jensen hopes the new facility will be a boon both for the company and for Baltimore
“We know this facility is going to make Home Chef stronger, but we’re also hoping that it’s going to make the community here stronger as well,” Jensen said.
Jensen said the new center will allow the company to tap into Baltimore’s strong talent pool.
“We’ve been super happy and really impressed with the quality of folks that are here,” he said. “We’ve hired a bunch of them already, and we’re going to hire a lot more, and those are the folks that are really going to make this happen, bring this vision to life, and deliver great products to our customers.”
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott thanked Home Chef for hiring workers from Baltimore City, and the MTA for extending a bus line for about a mile to reach the new facility.
“This is how you partner public and private to make things work for our neighborhoods and our city,” Scott said.
“Baltimore is renowned for our rich history, our diverse culture, and forward-thinking mindset, and for a dynamic organization like Home Chef to establish a presence in Baltimore is a testament to the potential and the opportunities that our city offers,” he continued. “Home Chef is set to make a significant impact on our growing local economy and community, fostering both growth and positive change. Right here at this very site, 500 people will be able to hold full-time positions here by next year.”
Scott said the addition of Home Chef to Baltimore and the jobs it will create will further drive down the city’s unemployment rate.
“These jobs will contribute to reducing unemployment rates, which is lower, at its lowest point since pre-pandemic…. As we embrace Home Chef, we are taking a significant step towards building a more resilient, inclusive, and prosperous city. The economic growth it will generate, the career it presents, and the positive impact it has on the well-being of our residents are just a few examples of how the addition of Home Chef will help shape our city’s landscape for the future.”
Gov. Wes Moore had announced in March that the online and in-store meal solutions company would establish the center, creating more than 500 new full-time jobs in the community by 2024.
According to Moore’s announcement, “[t]he Maryland Department of Commerce and Baltimore Development Corporation worked proactively with Home Chef to assist with project costs, location services, and a 10-year lease agreement that will result in Home Chef occupying approximately 150,000 square feet of space located at 1701 East Patapsco Avenue.”
The company began in 2013 and employs more than 2,500 people who have helped serve more than 300 million meals across the nation. Home Chef is part of the Kroger company.
Moore expressed enthusiasm about the deal, citing Baltimore’s suitability for economic growth.
“Home Chef’s entrance into Maryland will help diversify the state’s business community, expand local job opportunities, and reflect new investment in Maryland’s economic competitiveness,” Moore said in March. “We are working diligently with our partners across the state and in local communities to create work, wages, and wealth for all Marylanders and believe deeply in the potential and opportunities that lie ahead for Baltimore City.”