Sun Basket—The Newest Addition to San Jose’s On-Demand Economy Creates Jobs
E-commerce business have emerged to bring you meals any way you want them—whether it’s your weekly groceries, meal kits you prepare, meals made for you by community chefs, or your favorite restaurant dishes. You can get them all delivered to your doorstep with some quick action on your smartphone. The On-Demand economy is taking hold of our nation and we’ve seen quick pickup by consumers in Silicon Valley, where time is money. Cutting out trips is enticing and there has never been an easier marketplace platform than the smartphone app.
You may be wondering how these on-demand services are shaping our local economy. San Jose’s newest addition, Sun Basket, has created 225 new full-time jobs with full benefits, and is on track to grow to 300 jobs in the near term. Sun Basket is an e-commerce meal kit subscription service that delivers chef-created recipes with pre- proportioned fresh ingredients to their online subscribers.
Sun Basket is competing with other subscription-based meal kit companies that have entered the market with perhaps the most well-known being Blue Apron. Sun Basket distinguishes itself by offering healthy, organic, paleo, and even gluten-free meal options. They also are continuously working to reduce their ecological footprint with more recyclable, re-usable and sustainable packaging. Sun Basket opened their San Jose facility at the former Race Street Foods 65,000 square foot processing and warehousing complex on Olinder Court in East San Jose in November 2015.
I joined a group of SJ Economy colleagues recently to tour Sun Basket, and met with the Human Resources Director, Jessie Jaquez. She told us she had for Sun Basket’s move to San Jose because of her familiarity with the City and its well-known motivated production and warehousing workforce.
The tour gave us an increased respect for that workforce. . Imagine what it takes to make 11 meal options for up to 20,000 subscribers on any given week! We were provided with cushy, heavy-duty parkas so we could be comfortable in the production and warehouse spaces that are kept between 30-50 degrees.
We saw pallets of fresh ingredients, eco-friendly packaging, and lines of cheerful production workers prepping meals and packaging boxes. Bob Offerle, Operations & Facilities Manager previewed the company’s new equipment and automation investments that will increase production at the facility.
Throughout our visit, two themes came through – Sun Basket’s commitment to be of the best of the meal-kit subscriber-based companies, and the determination to be a great employer. They are getting lots of credit for their first commitment – Buzz Feed recently listed Sun Basket in their top 10 “Life-Changing Things to Try.” As for being a great employer, Sun Basket is making substantial efforts by offering exclusively full-time positions with health, vision, and dental benefits. They have a comfy breakroom with Foosball table and Netflix streaming options. Also they have established achievable pathways for line workers to advance to leadership positions. Every week, they host a free “farmer’s market” for employees to take home produce and other ingredients that didn’t get used in that week’s deliveries. Anything not used by the employees goes right to the food bank. And the company barbecue doesn’t bother with burgers and hot dogs – salmon and rib-eye are on the grill!
Keep your eye on the on-demand economy as well as Sun Basket in particular. They are both growing tremendously and are redefining how we think of procuring and preparing our meals!
Reena Brilliot, Business Development Officer