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U.S. Backs Indian Fresh Meat Startup’s $121 Million Funding

Saritha Rai
·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- Indian grocery delivery startup FreshToHome has raised $121 million from investors including a development arm of the American government.

The company, which runs an app delivering fresh fish and meat to Indian consumers, secured Series C financing from investors including the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, which backs companies in developing nations. Other participants included Ascent Capital, the Allana Group and the Investment Corp. of Dubai, the startup said in a statement.

The Covid-19 pandemic drove consumers online in search of daily essentials and groceries, transforming fresh produce from a difficult business into one of the hottest industries on the internet. FreshToHome is one of the largest players in the $94 billion Indian fish and meat market, processing some 1.5 million orders a month and about $85 million in annual sales.

FreshToHome was started in 2015 by seven co-founders who met up in engineering college in southern India and later worked in Silicon Valley. It contracts farmers for its online marketplace, which co-founder Shan Kadavil said was on track to more than double annual sales to $200 million over the next 12 months.

FreshToHome is among a new crop of startups trying to transform an age-old system. In India, seafood and meat passes through at least four or five layers of middlemen before reaching the consumer, mainly through wet markets. Compounding matters, the country has poor cold-chain infrastructure for the transport of produce. FreshToHome promises safe food, such as poultry free of antibiotic residue, while trying to eliminate inefficiencies and deliver produce to buyers within 24 hours.

“About four-fifths of India is not vegetarian,” Kadavil said in an interview from Dubai, where he’s currently stationed. “And most Indians are used to buying their meat and seafood at the wet markets after touching and seeing,” he said. FreshToHome and others are bringing in trust for those ordering online, said Kadavil, who was part of the founding team for online games developer Zynga Inc.

(Updates with founder’s comments from the fourth paragraph)

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