Dubai's ICD, Investcorp India lead $121mln funding for FreshToHome

The online marketplace claims to use technology to cut off middlemen and source directly from fishermen and farmers

Online shopping. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Online shopping. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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FreshToHome, a direct-to-consumer fresh-foods firm based in India with operations in the UAE, has raised $121 million in a Series C funding round led by Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), Investcorp, Ascent Capital, the Allana Group and other investors.

Iron Pillar, the lead investor from the Series B round, participated in this round as well, with a significant investment of $19 million.

FreshToHome’s expertise is in direct sourcing, cold storage, and distribution and supply chain networks. Shan Kadavil, co-founder and CEO of FreshToHome, told Zawya that the company already has plans for expansion.

"We are already in the ready-to-eat category and in the fruits and vegetables segment," he said. "We plan to deepen our presence in those categories and also venture into other fresh produce categories such as dairy, breads, and eggs. In the immediate future we plan to expand to Saudi Arabia. Once our foray is successful in the UAE and KSA, we plan to enter the other GCC markets."

The company did not reveal details of the investments by ICD, Investcorp and rest of the investors. The Economic Times now values the firm at $380 to $400 million post-funding.

“COVID-19 transformed the fish and meat purchasing behaviour of consumers dramatically. Due to safety concerns, consumers made the habit-forming shift to e-commerce. Market size for fish and meat in the UAE is estimated to be around AED 11 billion in 2019. FreshToHome started around a year back in the UAE and is now already among the top 5 e-grocers in UAE. We have grown over 4x in the last 6 months in UAE,"  he added.

Support from its existing large Middle East-based investors such as CE-Ventures - the corporate venture capital platform of Crescent Enterprises, significantly helped in aiding its expansion in the UAE, FreshToHome said in a statement.

Khalifa Al Daboos, Deputy CEO of ICD, said: "At ICD, we seek to partner with companies like FreshToHome that are able to break new ground for the greater good while also enjoying a large shareholder value creation opportunity. This successful fundraising is a strong recognition of the company’s achievements and significant potential.”

According to FreshToHome, direct sourcing is its key differentiator. The online marketplace claims to use technology to cut off middlemen and source directly from fishermen and farmers. "This technology-enabled-sourcing approach allows us to ensure continuous supply of products. The key challenge is to cut off middlemen in the supply chain and to ensure end-to-end cold chain as most of the food we sell are extremely perishable. We use the state-of-the-art cold chain and AI based tech to overcome these challenges," Kadavil told Zawya.  

Gaurav Sharma, Head of Private Equity at Investcorp India, said: "We look at companies who redefine the category with proven top-line and bottom-line impact. We believe that FreshToHome fits this bill perfectly and is poised to achieve significant scale."

(Reporting by Seban Scaria; editing by Daniel Luiz)

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