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Asia Funding Frenzy: 5 Food & Farm Tech Startups Raise $40m

May 30, 2019

Five startups raised funding for a variety of tools primarily aimed at helping farmers capture better margins and bring consumers better offerings.

Asia has attracted some of the biggest agrifood tech investment deals to date, with 11 deals over $200 million in India and China, according to AgFunder’s 2018 AgriFood Tech Investing Report. As a testament to its major market opportunity, plant-based burger maker Impossible Foods is eyeing Asia after identifying the continent as being home to 40% of the global meat market.

And startup activity does not appear to be slowing; this week alone, at least five agrifood tech startups in just two countries closed funding deals worth $40 million. The startups are innovating in two main categories: consumer food delivery and farmer-focused agribusiness marketplaces.

In India, HungerBox closed the largest deal with a $15 million venture round led by Paytm for its platform aimed at large corporates that want to revolutionize their cafeterias and food courts while complying with food safety and regulatory policies, according to Times of India. Based in Bengaluru, the company reports 1,100 vendors and 100 corporate clients using its platform to date. It claims to run the only 100% digitized cafeteria in India, where corporate campuses have cafeterias that suffer from a lack of efficiency.

Meat and fish-focused eGrocer FreshToHome, also in India, closed an $11 million Series A led by CE Ventures with participation from Das Capital, Kortschak Investments, TTCER Partners, AI-Nasser Holdings, M&S Partners, and other Asia and SV-based backers, according to TechCrunch. The startup delivers to consumer what it describes as healthier and fresher cuts of fish, chicken, and other meat. In India, meat products are often supplemented with chemicals to extend their shelf life by as much as six months, according to company founder Shan Kadavil who formerly worked at gaming firm Zynga. The online service is hoping to provide consumers in the densely populated country with a more transparent supply of protein. Today, it counts 400,000 shoppers across four key cities including Bengaluru, NCR, Chennai, and Kerala while working with 1,500 fishermen.

In Indonesia, agribusiness marketplace and fintech platform TaniGroup closed a $10 million Series A funding led by Openspace Ventures, according to e27. Also participating in the round is The DFS Lab, a fintech accelerator funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation alongside Intudo Ventures and Golden Gate Ventures. The Indonesian startup operates an e-commerce platform called TaniHub that allows farmers and vendors to sell agricultural products as well as a peer-to-peer lending platform called TaniFund. Like Kedai Sayur (below), it cuts out the middleman and helps farmers capture better prices by selling directly to businesses. With 25,000 farmers on the platforms and offices in five regional locations, the outfit is now eyeing a nationwide expansion with its new injection of capital.

Indian agribusiness marketplace targeted hospitality buyers FreshVnF closed a $2 million seed round led by Equanimity Ventures, according to Your Story. Based in Mumbai, the startup uses machine learning to connect farmers to hotels, restaurants, and cafes to support the farm-to-fork movement. Businesses can order fresh fruits and vegetables through the platform that helps manage inventory through data. The company claims to deliver more than 15 tons of produce each day to a list of 300 clients and hopes to expand its offering to 100 tons and 5,000 buyers this year.

Indonesian agribusiness marketplace Kedai Sayur raised a $1.3 million seed funding round led by East Ventures for its technology that helps facilitate the distribution of fresh vegetables to vendors in Indonesia, according to KrAsia. The startup is hoping to address a pain point that vendors experience when it comes to finding quality produce at affordable prices. Middlemen in the supply chain often jack up prices, making it harder for vendors to capture the margins they need to get by. Through its mobile app, Kedai Sayur is connecting vendors directly to farmers and allowing them to browse a wider array of offerings. It’s also using delivery vehicles instead of traditional carts to help vendors get to more customers’ doorsteps on a daily basis. If a vendor can’t afford the vehicle, the startup offerings a financing program.

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