Dubai: The online grocery business in the UAE is not only picking up shoppers – heavyweight investors are lining up to get a piece of the action. The Investment Corporation of Dubai and Investcorp are among those who are putting in $121 million into FreshToHome, which specialises in serving the freshest fish and meat cuts onto dining tables.
The portal is targeting $200 million in sales next year. “We are already the largest vertically integrated fresh fish and meat online player in the world,” said Shahnawaz Kadavil, co–founder and CEO of FreshToHome. “A key strategy of ours is to enable our sellers to vertically integrate with a network of fishermen and farmers – in India over 2500 tons of fish is farmed with the aid of FreshToHome.
“We are present in over 125 coasts and our A.I-.based sourcing technology is used by over 1,500 fishermen. With this round of capital raise, we intend to increase that network exponentially.”
Deals keep flowing
Recently, Delivery Hero acquired InstaShop in a $360 million deal to expand in the online grocery space in the Middle East. And earlier, there was Majid Al Futtaim picking up equity in Wadi.com, a portal that has built up quite a presence in Saudi Arabia’s supermarket and grocery category.
In fact, it was an earlier round of funding that helped FreshToHome build a presence in the UAE. That round saw CE-Ventures, an arm of Crescent Enterprises, come in.
The latest funds will help prise open opportunities in Saudi Arabia. “We are planning to expand to Saudi Arabia shortly – still evaluating farming options,” the CEO added.
“A good quality supply chain, cold chain and e-grocery operation is a very capital-intensive. However, that pays rich dividends in terms of the quality of produce we can offer customers.
“We are reviewing our go-to market plan in terms of farming in the UAE and would be keenly exploring a number of strategies… including land lease.”