F2C agritech startups: Farm-to-fork journey made easier

F2C startups are leveraging technology to eliminate inefficiencies in the supply chain, benefitting both farmers and consumers

The F2C phenomenon is not confined to fruits and vegetables alone.

Farm to consumer, or F2C as it is known today, is essentially a direct channel between farmers and the end consumers, which helps eliminate supply chain inefficiencies while guaranteeing better pricing to both parties. With healthy living and wellness becoming an integral part of the urban lifestyle, transparency of processes and traceability of food have become key concerns for consumers. This change in consumer preference, especially on account of Covid-19, is driving the rise of F2C agritech startups in India.

Additionally, with the application of new-age technologies and digitisation, the F2C segment has gained attention from prominent investors in India, boosting its growth prospects further. “India has always boasted premium quality products but achieving scale was a daunting task given our expensive and unreliable distribution systems. The aggressive spread of low-cost internet fuelled the growth of community building avenues and began giving local producers better visibility,” says Subhadeep Sanyal, partner at Omnivore, an impact venture capital firm. “It also magnified the myriad issues in the supply chain. Today, various F2C brands are eliminating these inefficiencies, making it a win-win scenario for both farmers and consumers,” he adds.

Take for instance, Deep Rooted, launched by Clover Ventures, a greenhouse agritech startup. Founded in 2018, the startup works with about 60 small-scale farmers with landholdings of more than 70 acres around Bengaluru and Hyderabad. It started as a B2B supply chain for perishables and assisted small and marginal farmers in producing high-quality perishable crops. During the pandemic the startup pivoted to an F2C avatar, Deep Rooted. The D2C fruits and vegetables brand is founded on three pillars: fresh, clean, and community. It delivers fresh produce in under 24 hours from farms less than 150 km away from urban centres.

Says Avinash BR, co-founder at Clover Ventures: “With consumers valuing high-quality produce, we witnessed steep demand for perishables from consumers residing in housing societies during lockdowns. This saw our portfolio of products being doubled as compared to the pre-Covid level. We envisage building India’s first fresh produce supply chain that’s adapted to the challenge of climate change.”

Then, there is Farmley, a direct-from-farm brand delivering, what are billed as, the freshest and cleanest dry fruits, to the world. “Sourced directly from farms, we at Farmley make available nuts and dry fruits that have been passed on to us through generations,” says Akash Sharma, co-founder & CEO at Farmley. Sourcing products at fair value prices, Farmley has increased farmers’ incomes severalfold, built a fast-growing community-driven brand, and delivered premium quality nuts and dry fruits to consumers who value both health and taste.

The F2C phenomenon is not confined to fruits and vegetables alone. A case in point is ReshaMandi, said to be India’s first and largest B2B marketplace digitising the natural fibre supply chain. “Our larger purpose at ReshaMandi is to create value for all our stakeholders even as we provide sustainable solutions,” says Mayank Tiwari, its founder & CEO. “Early this year, we diversified into the D2C space through our platform ReshaWeaves, wherein we aim to bring exquisite sarees made of natural fabrics to our consumers at disruptive prices.”

He adds: “We want to create a value-added natural fibres supply chain that will transform the industry.” ReshaMandi also provides value-added services such as quality testing, technical advisories, high-quality inputs, and market linkages. It has boarded more than 35,000 small businesses spanning farmers, small and medium enterprise manufacturers, and retailers onto its supply chain. The startup’s efforts have helped increase small business incomes by 35-55% and pushed the use of indigenous raw silk dramatically.

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