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Walmart, Flipkart invest $30m in Indian farmer-to-business platform Ninjacart

October 13, 2020

India’s Ninjacart has announced a fresh injection of funding from US retail behemoth Walmart and and Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart.

While Ninjacart didn’t disclose financial details of the investment, the Economic Times reported it to be in the region of $30 million.

It said in a statement that it will use the funding for market expansion and to “build new offerings and supply chains for emerging customer segments” while continuing work on its supply chain tech for enhanced efficiency, reliability, and profitability.

This “fresh set of investments […] takes us one step closer to our vision of making food safe and accessible for [India’s] billion people and changing the way food reaches our plate,” said Ninjacart co-founder and CEO Thirukumaran Nagarajan.

“We will continue to invest in areas that impact the lives of customers and farmers positively.”

The Bengaluru-based startup enables restaurants, retailers, and kiranas (mom-and-pop stores) to purchase fresh produce directly from farmers and have it delivered, allowing for competitive costs and pricing for both growers and buyers.

By collecting and analyzing a raft of data, it has created a last-mile delivery network spanning much of India that allows it to get produce from farms to stores in less than 12 hours, avoiding the need for costly cold chain infrastructure.

Ninjacart has also sought to make the most of the Covid-19 pandemic, developing new services and striking partnerships to serve customers under lockdown and movement restrictions.

With Indian farms struggling to secure labor and farmers’ markets shut back in April, it launched its ‘Harvest the Farm‘ initiative to buy produce in excess supply at a nominal price from farmers, delivering it to buyers with the startup absorbing “supply chain costs.”

Food e-commerce has been getting a pandemic pickup – and not just in India. Read more here

It also began delivering fruit and vegetables to housing societies and apartments, and teamed up with Flipkart to drive the latter’s grocery delivery services. In May, it unveiled FoodPrint – a ‘farm-to-shelf’ traceability system based on RFID-tagging produce at point of harvest.

Deeper collaboration with Flipkart and Walmart seems likely following this latest funding.

“At [Flipkart] we are focused on ensuring that we continue to work towards developing new and innovative ways to meet our customers’ needs in this space, through the growth of Supermart [online grocery] and the recent launch of Flipkart Quick [hyperlocal daily staples delivery],” said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO at Flipkart Group, in a statement.

“Our pilots and current business engagement with Ninjacart have been encouraging as we leverage technology to address changing consumer behaviour across the country.”

Flipkart and its majority owner Walmart are existing backers of the Bengaluru-based startup, having invested an undisclosed amount in December last year. An earlier report from the Economic Times suggested that the sum was the first $10 million tranche of a total $50 million commitment from the two investors.

Some of Ninjacart’s other backers include Swiss ag inputs giant Syngenta, US chipmaker Qualcomm, and New York-based hedge fund Tiger Global, which led an $89 million investment in the startup last April.

Flipkart’s Quick and Supermart compete with a number of e-grocery services, such as Grofers, BigBasket and its subscription-based daily essentials offering BBDaily, and Amazon’s Pantry. Restaurant delivery marketplaces like Dunzo, Swiggy, and Zomato have also diversified into groceries since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, though the latter now appears to be angling for an exit from the business.

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