Recipe box brand Mindful Chef has made some boundary-breaking and deft business moves in recent years.

There was the launch of a frozen ready meal range in 2019, first on its platform and since through multiple online retailers and rapid grocery delivery services. Then there was a collaboration earlier this year with Waitrose, which saw Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients products arrive in co-branded boxes. Most recently, it launched a quartet of chilled ready meals into Waitrose in April.

These retail moves are proving a business boost – succeeding in a space where HelloFresh seemingly failed. Last year, year-on-year turnover at Mindful Chef increased by 39% to £67m in the company’s first full year under Nestlé’s majority ownership.

But is its latest offering – a dietician consultancy service – as savvy? Or some badly timed folly?

This week, it emerged select subscribers are being pitched 45-minute, one-on-one online sessions with professional dieticians involving a “tailored assessment” of their diet and lifestyle, which will result in “a healthy eating plan to achieve health goals”.

It’s unclear if the service is being considered as a new revenue stream or comes out of the customer relations budget. The service – at £30 a session – has been “heavily discounted” and “usually costs over £150” Mindful Chef said.

Regardless, the timing is possibly a little off. Such a service would surely be better launched in January, when new year’s resolutions are being made (and recipe box providers typically see their biggest annual uptick in subscribers). Or a few months ago, ahead of the summer holiday season, to appeal to those wanting to look their best on the beach.

Plus, consumers have more on their plate – or should that be less? – with rising food and drink prices, which are proving the biggest driver of inflation. Prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages rose by 8.7% in the year to May, the ONS reported this week, compared with 6.7% a month earlier.

Meanwhile, fuel prices have hit a record 165.9p per litre, and energy costs are also soaring.

Now is perhaps not the best time to be offering a 60p-a-minute service, which appears on barely anyone’s household essentials list.

However, it does come at a time of increasing concerns around health. According to a recent FSA survey, two thirds of participants (67%) agreed they actively sought out healthier options when food shopping more than ever before.

While those concerns may take a back seat among cash-strapped shoppers, the largely affluent and health-conscious Mindful Chef customer base is able to weather rising costs and inflation better than most. 

A one-on-one dietician service is sure to appeal to Mindful Chef’s subscribers, and makes sense given the brand trades on its grub being good for you.

Granted, such initiatives have been tried before. In 2018, Waitrose trialled a personal nutritionist service – for £95 – which involved consultations, a starter pack of healthy Waitrose food and recipes, and the chance to walk around a store with an expert to help pick better-for-you products. 

That appears to have been abandoned in favour of training partners as healthy eating specialists, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. Mindful Chef’s service provides a personal touch, is easily scaleable and meets the needs of typical subscribers bang on.

Health-focused brands would be wise to consider offering something similar. For consumers, there’s never a bad time to be educated about what you eat.