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Bunny Maicai nets funding, Meituan expands group buying as China’s appetite for fresh produce grows

September 8, 2020

Chinese e-grocery startup Bunny Maicai has raised “tens of millions of dollars” in Series A investment, with the VC arm of real estate giant Country Garden joining the round alongside Joy Capital and ZWC Partners according to local media reports.

Also known as Xiaotumaicai — the transliteration of its Chinese name — the platform allows users to form online groups with others in their local area to buy food in bulk from farmers and SME vendors. This leads to price and cost efficiencies for both consumers and suppliers.

Via Bunny Maicai’s mobile app, users can order fresh items including fruits, vegetables, meat, and seafood, as well as flour, noodles, oil, drinks, and snacks, and have them delivered to their homes within 30 minutes.

In response to increasing saturation and competition in the grocery delivery segment, Bunny Maicai has also begun to operate its own chain of small, community-focused physical stores, which local shoppers can visit to pick up groceries in person.

Co-founder and CEO Hua Sheng said the company will use the new funding to increase its number of outlets and enhance its supply chain systems, with the aim of opening 100 stores and signing up 10 million customers in the coming months.

While its team is based in Beijing, the startup currently only offers its service in Wuxi, and intends to expand to similarly sized second- and third-tier Chinese cities.

Hua and co-founder Huang Yan previously worked at on-demand giant Meituan Dianping, where they helped to build its fresh food delivery businesses.

Meituan is just one of the many players in China’s fresh food e-commerce space that Bunny Maicai will have to contend with. The company began piloting a grocery group-buying business, Meituan Youxian, in the northeastern city of Jinan in July. Last week, it announced the expansion of the service to 1,000 cities across 20 provinces over the next three months. The plan will include the construction of warehousing and logistics facilities, as well as brick-and-mortar stores.

A separate service, Meituan Maicai, was launched by the company in January 2019. This provides one-hour express delivery of vegetables and other fresh groceries in select Chinese cities.

Other larger competitors include Alibaba‘s robotized supermarket chain Freshippo and e-grocer Dada JD Daojia, which filed for an IPO in the US in May.

Among the other Chinese startups rivaling Bunny Maicai are Tencent– and Goldman Sachs-backed online grocer MissFresh — which raised a whopping $495 million funding in July — and group-buying platform Nice Tuan, which has secured almost $250 million in the past year across three funding rounds. Another competitor, Dingdong Maicai, banked a reported $300 million funding in an April round led by US private equity giant General Atlantic for its model built around micro-fulfillment ‘front warehouses.’

According to AgFunder’s 2019 China AgriFood Startup Investing Report, group-buying startups that raised big funds last year include Tongcheng Life, which got $100 million in an August Series B round led by Legend Capital (it followed this with a further $200 million in June this year, co-led by livestreaming platform Joyy.)

Another is Familyone — also known as Lilinyi — which netted $30 million from Sequoia Capital and retail giant Suning, aming other investors; while Chujia Xinxuan scored $14 million in Series A funding from GF Xinde Investment Management.

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