Jun 15, 2023 - Economy

Instant Pot burnout: Parent company files for bankruptcy

Animated photo illustration of an instant pot with "00:00" flashing as the timer.

Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Deb Lindsey for the Washington Post via Getty Images

The Instant Pot — a must-have hot gift of recent years — is in danger of losing steam after its parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week.

Why it matters: The kitchen gadget developed a deeply devoted cult following. Amazon called the product a "Prime Day favorite," and it has repeatedly been a holiday bestseller.

Driving the news: Consumers struggling with inflation have soured on the product. Instant Brands said "global macroeconomic and geopolitical challenges" have affected the business.

  • The company also makes well-known kitchen brands Pyrex, Corelle, Snapware, Corningware, Visions and Chicago Cutlery.
  • Instant Brands was founded in 2009 and bought by private-equity firm Cornell Capital LLC in 2019, who combined it with Corelle Brands.

By the numbers: Electronic multicooker sales reached $758 million in 2020 but plunged 50% by last year to $344 million, AP reported citing NPD Group data.

Zoom in: The bankruptcy announcement comes days after S&P Global downgraded the company's rating because of lower consumer spending on discretionary categories.

  • "Net sales decreased 21.9% in the first quarter of fiscal 2023, relative to the same period last year," S&P analysts wrote, noting it was the seventh consecutive quarter of “year-over-year sales contraction.”
  • Bankruptcy documents show the company has $500 million in both assets and liabilities.

What they're saying: "Tightening of credit terms and higher interest rates impacted our liquidity levels and made our capital structure unsustainable," Instant Brands president and CEO Ben Gadbois said in a statement.

  • "We believe that the Instant Pot product is going to be around for a long, long, long time, and we still sell a lot of volume," Gadbois told the Wall Street Journal in March. "But no product stays at a phenom level forever."

Flashback: Instant Pot has had a cult following for many years, and a 2017 New York Times article called it the "kitchen gadget that spawned a religion."

  • It has repeatedly been a holiday bestseller on Amazon and other retailers.
  • For Prime Day 2018, Amazon members purchased more than 300,000 Instant Pot 6-quart 7-in-1 multiuse cookers.

More from Axios:

Go deeper