FreshToHome, an Indian meat and seafood ecommerce platform has raised $11 million in its Series A, led by CE Ventures, the venture capital arm of the UAE-based conglomerate, Crescent Enterprises
Other investors who joined the round were Al-Nasser Holdings, Abdul Azeez Al-Ghurair, Das Capital, Kortschak Investments, TTCER Partners, and M&S Partners.
Founded in 2015 in Bengaluru, FreshToHome sources fresh meat produce, including seafood and poultry directly from over 1,500 farmers and fisherman from 125 coastal towns in India; to deliver them to over 400,000 customers in different Indian cities including Bengaluru, Chennai and New Delhi.
Through its mobile phone app, farmers and fishermen select the product they want to sell and bid to get selected by the company. The startup then selects the sellers and places a purchase order with them based on demand for produce, location, and other factors.
“FreshToHome employs over a 1,000 people and has own fleet of refrigerated trucks, 40 collection centres and 4 factories in Cochin, Bengaluru, Noida and Chennai with 20+ processing facilities and hubs in each city, where 15 tonnes of fish and meat is delivered on a daily basis."FreshToHome
The startup claims to be the largest such ecommerce platform with Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) of $1.73 million each month.
With the latest investment, FreshToHome plans to expand its supply chain network, connect with as many as 8,500 new farmers, and start fresh fruit and vegetable delivery in more locations.
It is also planning to expand its operations to Mumbai and Pune within India, as well as to Middle East and North Africa. It is already live in the United Arab Emirates, delivering fresh fish and meat in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah.
Speaking about the startup, Co-founder and CEO Shan Kadavil, said “FreshToHome aims to offer 100 percent fresh seafood and meat to consumers free of any added chemicals, while ensuring farmers and fishermen receive a fair price. Most of the capital we raise is invested back into the supply chain network, enabling us to reach more fishermen and farmers with our state-of-the-art technology”
“FreshToHome’s technology is revolutionising the way the meat and seafood industry functions by disintermediating the supply chain, eliminating the middlemen and working directly with the fishermen and farmers to make fresh and chemical free food more widely accessible. The Meat and Seafood segment in India is a $50 billion market, but is highly fragmented, creating a compelling opportunity for FreshToHome to capitalise and strengthen its position as one of the largest online suppliers of fresh meat and seafood in India, and beyond. As a strategic investor, we are actively working towards the company’s international expansion to the MENA region.”Tushar Singhvi, Director of CE-Ventures
It is great to see a startup connect with as many farmers and fishermen in India as FreshToHome. It is certainly in the best interest of the consumers to receive products freshly delivered at home. However, we are concerned of the potential bidding war given that to our knowledge, there is no union or regulatory body overlooking the processes in India.
One would think that the model could have been better applied to allow farmers and fishermen to directly sell to consumers. However, the lack of internet and technology penetration and education in rural areas hinders this application. We simply need to trust FreshToFarm to offer its suppliers with fair prices.
It is simply a capitalist market concept that, while has provided a new avenue for growth and revenues to the struggling class of farmers and fishermen, could also see many farmers not benefit from the platform at all; and be forced to sell produce at a loss simply to get the inventory out.
In addition, refrigerated trucks are great, but also the bare necessity for transport of meat. The conditions at the farms, collection points, as well as that of delivery to the collection points are equally important. We’ll be looking into this to report back.
Having said that, it is already a step up to provide better conditions for meat and seafood transport than what was previously the case in India. Considering the fundraise from CE Ventures, FreshToHome’s expansion within India, and especially to the UAE, we’re certain that strict laws and conditions must have been followed to get regulatory approval; and the conditions would be optimal for the transport.
We would be excited to see the use of blockchain to help people track the food and be certain of its freshness and quality. However, considering the nascency of the startup, there are more pressing matters to attend to, and the adoption of blockchain will still take a few years even if they are looking to incorporate it. It not only takes the investment into research and development, but also to educate farmers and fishermen on the use of the technology; and even then there would be a testing phase involved that could take a while.
We would like to see more transparency in the system, to track how the capitalisation of meat and seafood market is impacting farmers who have signed up to the platform. While consolidating the market is a great way to move the economy forward, social measures to ensure that the farmers and fishermen are benefitting from the platform is the need of the hour.