UAE AgriTech start-up Produze raises $2.6m in funding round

The company aims to use technology to address supply chain challenges by connecting farmers with international retailers

A worker rearranges fruit at a shop in Beirut. Streamlining food supply chains is crucial to ensuring food security. AP
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Produze, a UAE-based agricultural technology start-up, raised $2.6 million in a seed funding round that it will use to expand its operations and promote food security in the Middle East.

The funding round was led by California-based private equity company Accel, which is best known for being among the first investors in social media platform Facebook and music streaming service Spotify, with the participation of Indian-based venture capital company All In Capital and other investors, the company said on Tuesday.

Produze aims to use technology to address the challenges of the agricultural supply chain by connecting farmers with international retailers, removing barriers to help trade flourish and provide competitive prices to consumers, said co-founder and chief executive Ben Mathew.

“Cross-border supply chain for agri-produce today is fragmented with several intermediaries and poorly managed processes, which creates inconsistency in quality, inefficient prices and wastage — leading to loss in value for the retailers and distributors,” he said.

The company currently offers pulses from India, according to its website, and will be serving several “agri-produce categories in multiple countries” in the Middle East, North America and Europe, the company said.

The start-up plans to gradually add perishables and non-perishable categories, which would include sub-categories such as spices, fruits and vegetables from more countries, Mr Mathew told The National.

“We are building a global sourcing capability that will help retailers procure from anywhere,” he said.

The global produce market is projected to reach more than $211 billion by 2028 from about $144bn in 2020, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 5.1 per cent, data from Verified Market Research shows.

It is part of the wider agriculture sector, which is expected to reach about $12.5 trillion in 2022 and grow to more than $18.8tn by 2026 at a CAGR of about 11 per cent, according to The Business Research Company.

Streamlining food supply chains is crucial to ensuring food security, a growing priority across the world, especially after the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which began in February, and supply chain disruptions.

The UAE is promoting the use of technology to boost the AgriTech sector, and has also pledged to take action on the global food crisis.

The future of Middle East food security - Business Extra

The future of Middle East food security - Business Extra

The Middle East is a “big strategic focus” for Produze, Mr Mathew said, describing the UAE as a “dynamic and globalised market”, with residents seeking quality food products at competitive prices.

Produze will use technology to link producers with retailers to ensure “consistent quality, better prices and complete just-in-time fulfilment”, Mr Mathew said.

Pratik Agarwal, a principal at Accel, said technology and supply chain capabilities could help to improve the selection of fresh farm produce for customers “at more affordable prices while compensating the producers fairly”.

Produze was founded in 2022 by Mr Mathew, Gaurav Agrawal, Rakesh Sasidharan and Emil Soman.

Mr Mathew and Mr Agrawal were part of the leadership team at Ninjacart, India’s largest AgriTech start-up.

Updated: May 30, 2023, 12:22 PM