Where Is Plated From Shark Tank Today?

Nowadays, there are meal kit delivery services for every level of cook. It hasn't always been like this, though. While the out-of-the-box idea piqued interest from the start, that didn't necessarily translate into a sustainable business. So, by the end of the 2010s, the concept was beginning to look a bit shaky. The pandemic's quarantines, of course, changed that, pushing folks to embrace meal kit delivery services in place of eating out or grocery shopping. This trend might not last forever, especially as we head into a post-pandemic world, but for now, many consumers agree there are plenty of reasons to love cook-at-home delivery services.

One startup was ahead of the curve. All the way back in 2014, Plated was pitched on Season 5 Episode 22 of "Shark Tank." Josh Hix and Nick Taranto, founders of Plated, offered up 4% equity for a $500 thousand investment in their meal kit delivery service. The sharks were skeptical about consumer appeal, and most of them declined to invest. Yet, Mark Cuban offered $500 thousand for about 5.5% equity plus advisory shares. Victorious, Hix and Taranto accepted.

However, the deal didn't actually go through.

A different shark got Plated

Plated appeared on "Shark Tank" more than once. In 2018, the startup was featured in an update segment, where it was revealed Cuban couldn't agree on specific terms with Hix and Taranto. Even so, one year later, the two entrepreneurs ran into Kevin O'Leary and convinced him to invest, backing up their fresh pitch with a year's worth of growth and accomplishments. As reported by CNBC, Plated had seen two whole years' worth of sales in the single month after its episode first premiered. In the words of Hix, "The rest is history!"

During 2014, Plated's annual sales were $350,000. In 2018, they were over $100 million. So, the grocery chain Albertsons acquired Plated for $300 million, giving the service access to over 2,000 physical stores and 35 million weekly customers. O'Leary even made a 1,346% return on his investment — the largest of its kind in "Shark Tank" history. "It was a rocky road," Mr. Wonderful recounted, adding "First I said 'no,' then I said 'yes,' and am I ever glad I did!"

"We are playing for billions here," Taranto told CNBC while looking towards the future. "We are going to kill Blue Apron. We are going to take on Amazon Fresh." Did such ambitious predictions come true?

Albertsons cleared its plate

What began as perhaps the greatest "Shark Tank" success story of all time has a fairly subdued fate in the end. As reported by Supermarket News in late 2019 — notably mere months before the meal kit delivery boom of 2020 began — Albertsons changed Plated from a subscription service to an in-house brand. This was a rather sudden turn of events, yet Albertsons' leadership seemed enthusiastic.

"With a broader scope of offerings," Albertsons' executive vice president and chief merchandising officer explained, "we see Plated solving customer demands around convenience, lifestyle, and cooking experience, while adding yet another layer of interest to our in-store journey." Delivery would still be available, and pickup would become an option, but clearly, the core concept of Plated had shifted.

Perhaps as a reflection of this development, Hix departed the business earlier in 2019, and Taranto did the same just a few months before him, per the New York Business Journal. By January of 2020, per Boise Dev, the Plated brand debuted in its new form throughout Albertsons' Idaho locations. There hasn't been much official word on Plated since then. Meanwhile, both Blue Apron and Amazon Fresh are still in business. O'Leary, at least, probably still considers his experience with Plated to have been truly wonderful.