Startup Saturday: Pune-based companies fork-out ways to elevate quality of non-veg produce reaching… – Hindustan Times

In India meat is an open secret. The “open” aspect is that it is consumed. The “secret” is questions – is the chicken free from steroids and antibiotics, pork not infested with tapeworms, is fish fresh?

And here lay the big glaring need in the market. How to provide fresh, or if not fresh, at least safe, healthy and hygienic meat to Indian homes?

Godrej, Venkys. Saguna and Zorabian are the major players that attempt to fill a void in the farm-to-fork supply chain

However, now in Pune are three startups that believe they have what it takes to elevate the quality of non-vegetarian produce reaching your home.

As Vivek Gupta of Licious puts it, “The market is big enough for several players. We cannot service it all on our own.”

Shan Kadavil, founder, Fresh To Home

Operations began: 2015

Current turnover: Rs 200 crore

Money raised: $31 million

Daily SKUs: 100 trucks, 20 tonnes of seafood; 10 tonnes of mutton and chicken

Per/day order: 14,000, on average

Cities available in: Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Calicut and Pune

My co-founder Mathew Joseph had a business that would ship fresh fish to homes, which he was on the verge of shutting down. Being a Mallu (Malyali) who loves his fish, I had a personal interest in getting good fish at home. I have been an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley for most of my life, so I knew what needed to be done to run an e-comm business.

Shan Kadavil, founder, Fresh To Home,

Shan Kadavil, founder, Fresh To Home,

Devil in the details

India has a huge coastline – 5,000 coastal harbours, compared to 35 in the US; because of this fragmentation, people rely on middlemen.

We developed an app that made use of images instead of text since most fishermen are illiterate. They put up pictures of their catch and wwe electronically bid. We used technology to disrupt the way seafood was bought and sold.

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In addition to this we added large scale cooperative farming using aquapponics and aquaculture. For fresh water fish we tie up with farmers and give them up to 25% advance payment for their produce and then buy back the fish at a pre- agreed price. We use the best in class techniques that we share with them to increase yields by up to three times.

Even with our chicken we are able to ensure residue free meat. Our farmers will give vaccines to the chicks for the first 15 days (this is a global practice else they will not survive) and then we have a withdrawal (of antibiotics) period before they are slaughtered.

Today we are the largest packaged meat company in the country.  

Vivek Gupta, founder, Licious

Operations started: 2015

Current turnover: Rs 180 crore

Daily orders:

Money raised: $64 million

Cities available in: Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Delhi, Noida, Faridabad, Chennai, Chandigarh, Mumbai and Pune.

We think we are a vegetarian country. When you go to by meat the vendor gives it to you in a black plastic bag. Why? India consumes US$40 billion of meat in a year and not a single brand exists in this space. I was working with Helion a VC firm and my co-founder was with an insurance company. We got together so that we could provide meat that was safe, healthy and not hidden in black plastic bags.


Devil in the details

Though we both are meat lovers we lacked expertise on the subject. We brought in Joe Manvalan on board – a senior chef and faculty at the Oberoi School. We set up a processing facility in Hennur, Bengaluru. We sourced good quality birds, lamb and goat and processed it at our centre. Fresh does not necessarily mean slaughtered in front of your eyes. After slaughter they have to be stored, up to the time of delivery, at 0 to 4 degrees centigrade. Also, meat must be hung for six–eight hours before it is butchered so that its pH balance comes down to 5.5. This brings about an acidity balance. We learnt processing techniques from Japan and Korea. Now we define our quality standards.

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We have vendors on board who are trained by us to produce quality meat. This process takes a few months. Everything from feeds, to water is done as per our training. We also do sample tests to ensure the meat is of the best quality.

We are certified by FSSC the top most certifying body in the world. We plan to set up a store sometime this year.

New vertical?

We started as a raw meat company but today 15% of our sales comes from pre- marinated meats that we have added to our basket. We also added meat spreads that can be used on sandwiches or rotis which have been very well appreciated. Our target audience is people who live to eat and whatever makes them happy and we will go along with that.

Shumu Gupta, founder, FishVish

Operations started: 2015

Current turnover: Undisclosed

Daily orders: 80 -100 on weekdays; 150 on weekends; average ticket size of Rs 850.

Money raised: Self-funded

Cities available in: Pune and Mumbai

It started with the need for good fish that led me to two years of intensive research of the business. After physically following the supply chain from sea to store, we discovered the fish is usually, at least eight days old by the time it reaches the local fishmonger, even in a city like Mumbai. Inland cities are worse off. Our research showed that there is immense progress made in increasing the shelf life of fish especially with modern freezing techniques used by large export houses. Such process not only increase shelf life, but also prevent cellular damage and preserve nutrition and texture. In December 2015, I registered Fishvish Foods Pvt Ltd. Fishvish provides clean, wholesome fish at your home.

Devil in the details

The challenge for the meat industry is to ensure quality product supply and storage for long periods while maintaining freshness. We have created relationships with large exporters as well as farmers in the fishery concentration zones. We source and curate products from certified factories only. Our relationships allow us to process, on job-work basis, varieties that are not exported, but go through the exact same process. We have vendor relationships with cold chain logistic companies to transport and store our products pre-last mile delivery. Last mile delivery is always handled by us. We have our own delivery staff on two-wheelers fitted with insulated delivery bags and gel cold packs. We provide morning and evening delivery slots on weekdays and an added afternoon slot on weekends.

So far we have been self funded but our aim is to serve the Mumbai market and then as more geographies. We are in the process of raising funds to do just that.

First Published:
Sep 21, 2019 15:01 IST


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