The Rise Of Food Tech In India
You’d be lying if you said you haven’t heard of Zomato. Or Swiggy. Or any of the numerous food delivery apps in India. The food-tech sector has skyrocketed in the past decade, and it’s only projected to go even higher. There are currently over 100 food tech startups in the country, projected to bring in over $7.5-8 billion USD by 2022, up from $4 in 2020. If there’s any time to be a part of a food-tech startup in India, it’s now.
Of the hundreds of startups in the food sector today, we’ve curated a list of the ten that are making an enormous impact, what they’re doing right, and why they matter. Let’s take a look.
Food Tech Startups in India
Zomato is easily one of the most recognisable startups in the country. Even if someone hasn’t used Zomato, they must’ve heard about it during the historical IPO event recently. We mean, the company was looking to raise only INR 9,000 crores and ended up getting applications worth over INR 1.5 lakh crores. If you still think you haven’t heard of it, just open up Youtube and watch the first ad that pops up.
Started in 2010 by Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah, Zomato first launched as a platform for displaying menus of various restaurants in your area. Even the name of the company was Foodiebay and, based out of Gurgaon, it seemed like a childish idea at first. Today, Zomato operates in over 24 countries, catering to over 32 million active users every month, and employs over 5000 people all over the globe. Not so childish anymore. You can read all about how Zomato makes money here.
“If it’s not on Zomato, check Swiggy”
That is one of the most common phrases college students use while looking to order lunch. Swiggy and Zomato are two sides of the same coin and are both excellent food delivery apps. Swiggy is based out of Bangalore and was launched by Sriharsha Majety, Nandan Reddy, and Rahul Jaimini in 2014. GrowthInsights has a really good argument on which one is better – read their article here.
While Zomato (currently) only serves as a food delivery app, Swiggy is a genie that delivers all that you need (the service is literally named Swiggy Genie). The company also helps restaurants set themselves up with their cloud kitchen concept.
If Swiggy delivers a lot of things, Licious specializes in just two – meat, and seafood. And it does a great job at that. With 300% YoY growth since launching in 2015, the company has only looked to the skies and continued on that path. But unlike Swiggy and Zomato, Licious doesn’t just deliver any meat or seafood. It delivers branded meat, holding itself responsible for the quality of the food delivered.
Abhay Hanjura and Vivek Gupta started the company out of Bangalore. Today, the company logs over 20,000 orders a day and has grown tremendously, multiplying its revenue over sixfold, even in the midst of a pandemic. If that’s not disruptive, we’re not sure what is.
Grofers is a groceries delivery app based out of Bangalore. That doesn’t sound like much, but if you’re one of those 7000 households that are getting groceries delivered to your doorstep in less than 15 minutes, you know how big of a deal Grofers is. The company is essentially an online grocery store, but with a delivery team that’s always on an adrenaline high.
Started in 2013 in Gurgaon, the unicorn has gone through thirteen rounds of funding and has raised over $600 million USD in the process. Their latest fundraiser included a $100 million USD investment from Zomato. You read that right.
Hungerbox is an underdog in the food-tech space, and is a B2B food servicing platform, catering majorly to corporate clients. Although founded way back in 2007 by Sandipan Mitra as HungryBangalore and later as HungryZone, the Bangalore-based startup was acquired by a UK-based food-tech giant, JustEat. Later in 2011, Food Panda acquired the Indian rights to the company, and in 2015, Hungerbox launched with a fresh new outlook.
The change worked miracles, as the company grew fourfold over the past two years, and in 2021, it’s working on getting through the pandemic alive. The company has raised $45 million USD to date and is looking towards greener pastures as companies are opening up across the country with relaxations. Fingers crossed.
MagicPin is an interesting business. It provides you with a list of diners and gives you discounts and cashback if you upload your bill on the app. The company serves north of 150,000 customers in over 50 cities across the country. It has raised around $42 million USD over seven rounds of funding and is reported to be leading over INR 30 crores of business to several outlets in the country.
Founded in 2015 by Anshoo Sharma and Nipun Bhatia, MagicPin is doing a great job in building a community of foodies on its platform. It’s also building a trusty following of companies that are registering on the app for exposure. And guess who’s on the board of the Bangalore-based startup? CEO of Zomato Deepinder Goyal.
FreshToHome is a fairly new brand, but a significant one nonetheless. After recently raising a cool $121 million USD to expand its operations overseas, the fresh-groceries and meat delivery app has become the talk of the town for several reasons.
In October of 2020, the company reported over 420,000 monthly orders, and the numbers just keep increasing, projecting an ARR of $200 million USD by 2022. After only half a decade of operations, this is a pretty good number for the Bangalore-headquartered startup. With eyes on the markets in UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kolkata, the company is doing a great deal of work, and scaling up at a rapid pace. It will be really interesting to see how it progresses from here on.
Eat.fit is another interesting startup, and we would put it in the fitness and wellness category, but its library of diet and nutrition plans along with delivery options makes it a good fit for the food startup category.
Eat.fit branched out from its parent brand, Cure.fit, to provide a whole bunch of tasty and nutritious dishes that aligned with Cure.fit’s mission – a healthier lifestyle. Unlike the other startups in this list, Eat.fit prepares its own food and has it delivered to your doorstep, and at unbeatable prices. The company is projecting a slow growth towards profitability, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
What is the future of the food industry ?
According to Forbes, the food and beverage industry is heading toward a really interesting phase. While we’re not sure if this phase is here to stay, we can be sure that companies capitalising on it are going to reap huge rewards in the near future. What is this new phase? Personalization and Comfort.
Because of the pandemic, customers have realized the larger-than-life impact of eCommerce on their lives, and how they have severely underestimated its potential. Almost everyone is ordering online, and because everyone’s tastes are different, there are more products now in the world than ever before. This is especially true for the food industry.
With different taste buds wanting more and more everyday, restaurants and businesses now find the need to customise their traditional dishes to fit the customer. Personalization, along with the comfort of receiving your food at your doorstep is what the future of the food industry is heading toward, at least until the pandemic breezes past us.
How big is the food tech industry?
Although the numbers are vague and unclear due to the pandemic, India’s food tech industry pre-Covid grew to unimagined heights, touching a little over $300 million in GMV (Gross Merchandise Value). Startups like Zomato have helped boost the economy to a great extent, and we can only imagine that impact growing further, as dependence on food delivery startups is on the rise, even as relaxations are taking place throughout the country.
What are the job opportunities for food technology ?
As we mentioned earlier, the food tech industry is growing leaps and bounds every single day. This means investors are bleeding money into startups in an effort to maximise profits and scale fast. With scaling comes more growth, and even greater job opportunities.
Even infant startups like Nature.farm are providing millions of jobs, so you can imagine how many more opportunities these companies will provide in the coming years. Definitely an exciting space to be in today.
The food tech industry is growing at an alarmingly positive rate, and one can only wonder if there ever will be a peak to this mountain, and when things will start falling apart. There will be a time when the food tech industry will cease to grow, and all the hype around it will dissipate.
But presently, that is not the case. India is growing tremendously with potential unicorns and innovative food and beverage startups leading the way, so might as well get on the bandwagon and get on with the exciting journey while it lasts.