Instant Pot

Instant Brands, Maker of the Instant Pot, Files for Bankruptcy

Anyone who knows me knows that I have long praised the benefits of the Instant Pot as a versatile cooking tool. To this day, years after purchasing mine, I still use it at least weekly, usually even more often. But there’s sad news: the parent company Instant Brands, which merged with Corelle Brands in 2019, has filed for bankruptcy.

This isn’t the mark of a bad product, but perhaps the mark of one that is too good. Anyone who is interested in the Instant Pot has already purchased one, arguably more than one. It has been a popular gifting item through the years, especially with sales during special events, namely Amazon Prime Day. But now, the company says it is taking action to “strengthen its financial position” and “support long-term growth.” Ben Gadbois, President and CEO of Instant Brands, says “tightening of credit terms and higher interest rates impacted our liquidity levels and made our capital structure unsustainable.”

Instant Brands, which is behind not only the Instant Pot but also now Corelle, Pyrex, Snapware, CorningWare, Visions, and Chicago Cutlery, has initiated a voluntary court-supervised Chapter 11 process that provides the “time and flexibility to continue ongoing discussions with all of its financial stakeholders in an effort to achieve a consensual path forward that strengthens the company’s financial position.”

Instant Pot

In connection with the court-supervised process, Instant Brands has received a commitment for US$132.5 million in new debtor-in-possession financing from its existing lenders. Following court approval, this new financing, combined with cash generated from the company’s ongoing operations, is expected to support the business during the court-supervised process.

“Instant Brands delivers houseware and small kitchen appliance products designed to meet consumer needs around the world,” says Gadbois. “Over the past three years, we executed across five key strategies to build a profitable business. Our company continues to drive positive operating cash flows. We brought innovation to our core business across all brands, entered several new product categories, expanded our global footprint, progressively improved how we leverage our global infrastructure and last but not least, we have created best-in-class global consumer engagement through our digital eco-system.

“After successfully navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and the global supply chain crisis,” he continues, “we continue to face additional global macroeconomic and geopolitical challenges that have affected our business. In particular, tightening of credit terms and higher interest rates impacted our liquidity levels and made our capital structure unsustainable. In recent months, we have been working closely with all of our financial stakeholders to position the company for its next phase of success.

Instant Pot

He concludes: “As we move through this process, we remain focused on serving and connecting with our consumers around the world, and we are grateful for their trust in us and our products. We are committed to finding a positive outcome. We thank our Instant Brands employees in factories, distribution centers and offices all over the world for their ongoing hard work and excellence, and we also extend our gratitude to our retail partners, suppliers and vendors for their continued support.”

Robert Wang, Instant Pot
Source: Robert Wang

The Instant Pot, some might forget, is actually a Canadian invention. The multicooker, which can do everything from pressure cook to slow cook, saute to bake, steam to even make homemade yogurt, is credited with being the brainchild of Robert Wang, who reportedly worked on the concept with Yi Qin and others while at Nortel in Ottawa way back in 2008. In 2009, the company was founded as Double Insight. The idea was simple: a small appliance with single-function, one-touch buttons for common cook functions. Place ingredients inside and you could theoretically cook something that would typically requires hours in a fraction of the time using high pressure. And it works. The Instant Pot became an Internet and home kitchen sensation in 2012. In 2016, more than 215,000 of the small appliances were sold on Amazon Prime Day alone.

Since then, the Instant Pot has been made available in a variety of iterations, with three different sizes, different functions, accessories like an Air Fryer lid, and even a smart Bluetooth-enabled model. Third-party brands have developed accessories designed specifically for, or specially fitted to, the Instant Pot, from tiny silicone gloves to special pot inserts, cute pressure knob covers, silicone molds, and more.

Instant Brands itself has also expanded to make other products, ranging from full-sized air fryers to blenders and even a coffee maker. The products have always been reasonably priced and this combined with the ease of use and ability to deliver on promises resulted in the brand becoming a cult favourite. A quick search on sites like Facebook and in food blogs and recipe websites will yield numerous groups sharing recipes, tips, and tricks online, building a full-fledged community of die-hard fans. The Pot is a mainstay on holiday and other occasion gift guides for good reason. It can replace multiple small appliances, offers quick and efficient cooking, is fairly portable, and easy to use for people who don’t know how to cook (and worth experimenting with for those who do).

Instant Brands Air Fryer

Nonetheless, the reality is that tough times, high interest rates, and other challenges have left Instant Brands and certain of its North American affiliates in a position to file voluntary petitions for reorganization under chapter 11 of Title 11 of the United States Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. The company is also commencing ancillary proceedings in Canada under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) seeking recognition of the U.S. Chapter 11 proceedings in Canada. Entities located outside the U.S. and Canada are not included in the Chapter 11 filings.

The company has filed a number of customary motions seeking court approval to continue to support its operations during the court-supervised process, including the continued payment of employee wages and benefits without interruption. Instant Brands expects to receive Court approval for these requests shortly. The company intends to pay vendors, suppliers, and distributors in full under normal terms for goods and services provided on or after the filing date.

Additionally, the company has appointed Adam Hollerbach, Partner and Managing Director at AlixPartners, as Chief Restructuring Officer.

Fans hope this news doesn’t mean the end to a cult favourite brand among both novice and expert cooks. Nonetheless, if you haven’t yet jumped on the Instant Pot bandwagon, now is the time. Amazon Prime Day, taking place this July, will likely have plenty of deals on the popular Pot. Or check your local retailer and pick one up. You won’t be disappointed!