Odisha-based start-up FreshR comes up with India’s first app in fishery sector for bulk purchases

Subramani Ra Mancombu | | Updated on: Jul 28, 2022

The fish and meat distributor aims to be a “Walmart of meat” industry

Fish and meat distribution start-up FreshR, which has come up with India’s first app in the fishery sector for bulk purchases and doorstep delivery, aims to become the “Walmart of meat” industry.

“Fish and meat business is a tough sector to crack. Very few companies are attempting it. We are positioning ourselves as a new-age Walmart of meat. We would like to call ourselves a one-stop solution for bulk buyers and like to make this an organised sector from being heavily unorganised,” said Ambika Satapathy, Co-founder, FreshR. 

The fish and meat business is one in which not many would like to work. “So we are trying to change that and to organise it by a new age Walmart,” she said. 

Quality, delivery assurance

FreshR’s app can provide details of various grades of fish with prices at the source. It also provides information on transport costs for the minimum order before bulk buyers can place orders for delivery at their doorstep.

“We are providing a digital inspection process for our buyers in the app, where they can get details of the time of catch, the sorting and grading process pictures and their videos. The weight of the consignments will be available box by box,” Satapathy said. 

Ambika Satapathy, Co-founder, FreshR

Ambika Satapathy, Co-founder, FreshR

This is because the buyer would have placed orders for ₹5 lakh or ₹10 lakh. The digital service will give buyers assurance of quality, quantity and delivery through a transparent process. “We also have a no questions asked rejection policy. Once the product reaches the buyer, he/she gets a 30-minute window to reject any product. If a product is rejected and if we feel it is legitimate, we will ask no questions,” the FreshR co-founder said. 

Unorganised sector

Stating that the company has emerged as “the fastest growing B2B platform” for the fish and meat business, Satapathy said one problem in the sector is that there aren’t many entrepreneurs to solve its problems for “a variety of cultural, religious reasons”. 

“The industry is worth about $60 billion and 97 per cent of it is unorganised. What this means is that the entire supply chain is run in a very rudimentary manner,” she said. 

Post-harvest losses were 25-30 per cent in the sector and the final product reaching the consumer was “unhygienic”, which could affect human health. “This is where we come in. We are creating a system where we procure in bulk from aquaculture farmers, fishers and poultry growers,” she said. 

FreshR has a network of bulk buyers such as wholesale dealers and distributors besides institutional buyers, hotels, restaurants and caterers. The company operates in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand and Delhi National Capital Region, besides having just entered Bengal. 

Value preservation

Since consumers in the country prefer fresh and chilled produce, FreshR does value preservation of raw produce and then value adds it for bulk buyers by cutting, cleaning and vacuum packing for fish. “In the case of chicken, you need to dress it up too, besides portioning and cutting,” Satapathy said. 

The company, launched in 2016,  has a network of over 500 fish farmers with the bulk of its procurement being made in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.  

“We currently have 30-40 buyers, who buy in tonnes. We are rapidly expanding the will probably touch 300-400 over the next 12 months,” said the co-founder of the firm which became active in 2017 before operating on a small scale in 2019. 

FreshR, whose business picked up last year, has a volume turnover of 600-700 tonnes. “Over the last 6-8 months, we have grown 15X. We are looking to grow another 10X and increase volume over the next 12 months to over 6,000 tonnes,” she said. 

A large chunk of the business the company does in the bulk of over one tonne is fish. “About 90 plus per cent of the volume is fish. But poultry (meat) is sort of picking up,” Satapathy said.  

Headroom for growth

FreshR sees scope for its growth from a low per capita consumption of meat compared to the developed world. “There is a lot of headroom for growth. In the many pockets such as Odisha, Andhra and Bengal over 90 per cent of the population is non-vegetarian,” she said, adding that her company would expand within these States. 

The start-up will also expand into new geographies after gauging the demand, price realisation and product mix in those markets. “We are looking to go deeper into Bengal and, of course, Odisha. East and North are our big focus over the next 6-9 months,” Satapaathy said.   

FreshR plans to partner with farmers and provide them with an assured guarantee. “We will be like you just produce, we will procure all that you bring and list it. We will also ensure they get paid on time,” the company’s co-founder said.  

“FreshR has been shortlisted by YES Bank as part of the bank’s agri infinity programme, under which only a few start-ups are selected from across the country,” she said, adding this would help to take care of the need of farmers and buyers. 

Assisting farmers

The company is looking at financial service providers and non-banking financial companies to support farmers at the backend and the buyer network. “There are ways to support farmers and we will be exploring all the opportunities to tap into. We will assist them in getting access to subsidies, finance, and support in terms of veterinarians, besides ancillary support services,” Satapathy said.  

FreshR recently raised $1.25 million in funding from Axilor Ventures, which has Infosys Krish Gopalakrishnan and his wife Shubra as co-founders, and 1crowd, a Mumbai-based syndicate, recently. The company has received Bharat Petroleum’s start-up funding support, too.

“We are well capitalised right now. The firm got a debt funder called N+1 Capital on board to raise ₹3 crore,” Satapathy said.   

Published on July 28, 2022
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