E-commerce site selling fresh fish and meat plans Middle East expansion after $121m funding round

Platform which sources directly from fisherman and farmers is expanding into Saudi Arabia following backing by Investment Corporation of Dubai

Shan Kadavil (C), co-founder and chief executive of Fresh To Home, sees immense growth potential in fish and meat e-commerce industry. Courtesy Fresh To Home
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Fresh To Home, an India-based e-commerce start-up with operations in the UAE, raised $121 million in a Series C funding round led by Dubai's sovereign fund, the Investment Corporation of Dubai.

The company, which sells fresh fish and meat online, sources directly from fishermen and farmers. It will use its latest funding round to expand into Saudi Arabia – the Arab world’s biggest economy – and the wider Middle East.

“We are just beginning to scratch the surface of a very large market and the current capital raise will help us realise our full potential through rapid expansion in India and the Middle East,” said Shan Kadavil, co-founder and chief executive of the company.

Founded in 2015, the company claims to be the world’s largest fully integrated online brand in fresh fish and meat e-commerce. Other backers in the Series C round include Bahrain-based Investcorp, the US Government’s Development Finance Corporation and India-based Ascent Capital, Iron Pillar and Allana Group.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has upended many industries globally, has propelled demand for their products, Mr Kadavil said, with many customers still keen to eat fresh fish and meat but less keen to visit markets to buy them.

“Due to safety concerns, consumers made the habit-forming shift to e-commerce and we saw online demand for our products going up manyfold this year thanks to [the] safety guarantee of 100 per cent fresh and no chemicals,” he said.

Fresh To Home, which delivers across the UAE, sources fish, meat and vegetables directly from fishermen and farmers using AI-powered supply chain technology and cold chain logistics. The company handles nearly 1.5 million orders of fresh fish and meat per month across all of its markets and its annualised sales run rate stands at about $85m, the company said. It claims to already be one of the top five e-grocers in the UAE.

“We are pleased to partner with Fresh To Home and to support the vision of [the] management and the growth of the company,” said Khalifa Al Daboos, deputy chief executive of ICD.

“We seek to partner with companies that are able to break new ground for the greater good … while also enjoying a large shareholder value creation opportunity. This successful fundraising is a strong recognition of the company’s achievements and significant potential,” he added.

“We look at companies who redefine the category with proven top-line and bottom-line impact. We believe that Fresh To Home fits this bill perfectly and is poised to achieve significant scale,” said Gaurav Sharma, head of private equity at Investcorp India.