Variety

This greengrocer aims to replicate Amul model

Vishwanath Kulkarni Bengaluru | Updated on December 18, 2020

Manjunatha TN, promoter and MD of Humus. The start-up helps farmers get better realisation and consumers get farm produce at a fair price

Agri-supply start-up Humus is piloting a ‘fair price’ supermarket

Will this experiment bear fruit? In south Bengaluru, an agri supply chain start-up Humus is piloting a ‘fair price’ supermarket for fruits and vegetables (F&Vs) with the idea of expanding it into a chain.

Selling fresh produce sourced directly from growers, Humus not only aims to help farmers get better realisation but wants to see that consumers get F&Vs at a fair price.

“F&Vs typically change four to five hands in the supply chain. We plan to reduce it to one or two, so that both the farmer and the consumer gains,” says Manjunatha T N, promoter and managing director of Humus, who comes from an agri-family in Kolar, a vital vegetable producing region in the South.

“We want to replicate the Amul model in the fruit and vegetable segment but in the private set up,” says Manjunath, a serial entrepreneur who had earlier started a bike rental business Royal Brothers.

Keeping costs low

Of course, there are others such as Ninjacart and WayCool Foods trying to revolutionise the challenging F&V space. But, Humus is trying to sew up the whole chain.

The acid test is keeping costs low. On the retail side, Humus hopes to do that by building its supermarkets in vacant plots of 3,000-6000 sq feet in the city in partnership with plot owners on a long term rental basis.

On the sourcing side, the company has set up three collection centres in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and has a sourcing base of around 200 farmers and handles a daily volume of about three tonnes. It plans to add six more such centres in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the next six months as it expands to at least five more outlets by March in Bengaluru. It has raised seed funding of ₹1.7 crore from Venture Catalyst for the expansion, while other venture capital firms such as Omnivore and Light Speed Ventures and also social impact firms have shown interest in the concept.

“Some of these VCs have approached us and have had a couple of round of talks. We may leverage them next year to expand our operations to other cities. We are also looking at the franchisee route as we have been getting enquiries from other states,” Manjunatha said.

The opening of collection centre in the interiors has helped farmers like Adarsha Reddy B M at Dyavarahalli near the Andhra border, who grows English cucumbers. “Earlier I used to travel about 25 km to supply. Now I just have to go 6 km,” says Reddy who is also happy that payment is within 48 hours as promised.

Interestingly, the business model of Humus has caught the attention of The Bengaluru International Airport. “The Bengaluru Airport authorities want us to set up a fair price shop in their premises to cater to about their 18,000 employees and also to the passengers, and we are keen that it materialise soon,” says Manjunatha.

The Humus fair price shop at JP Nagar has seen footfalls increase from around 400 to about 600-650 in a fortnight and the numbers are on the rise. “The quality of greens is fresh and good, and the concept is an urban version of weekly shandies,” said Santosh, a buyer in JP Nagar, who has been frequenting the outlet almost every alternate day.

Published on December 17, 2020

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