Soros Fund, Fashion Mogul, Valley Social Investor Help Fruit & Veggie Supplier Turn a New Leaf

Lawrencedale Agroprocessing India inks cobranding partnership with Star Bazaar

Soros Fund, Fashion Mogul, Valley Social Investor Help Fruit & Veggie Supplier Turn a New Leaf

New Delhi:Aspada, Vero Moda family office and Unitus Impact pitch in with $8 m Series B funding for Lawrencedale Agro Leaf, a branded fruit and vegetables supplier, has raised close to $8 mil `Rs 53 crore from a combination of inlion (.vestors including billionaire George Sorosbacked Aspada Investments; the family office of Danish fashion mogul and owner of Vero Moda, Anders Holch Povlsen; and Silicon Valley-based social impact investment fund Unitus Impact, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The money will be infused into the operating company , Lawrencedale Agro Pvt Ltd. The investment is said to be part of a Series B round that the company launched earlier this year.

Ooty-headquartered Leaf is a fresh produce supplier to leading supermarket and hypermarket chains such as Nature’s Basket, Future Group, Reliance Fresh, Spencer’s, Nilgiri’s and Metro Cash & Carry . It markets the produce sourced from Ooty and other horticulture belts of Tamil Nadu to modern retail chains as well as kirana stores across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.

The company has about 200 staff and most of them are deployed in rural areas.It recently started supplying to online grocery retailers such as Big Basket and Grofers and currently sells 7,000 tonnes of fresh produce annually through a combination of distribution channels, according to the people cited earlier.

When contacted, Leaf founder Vijayaraghavan Palat confirmed that the company had received a fresh funding from these investors, but declined to disclose details of the quantum of the investment.

“The proceeds from the fresh capital infusion will be utilised for building the branded fresh produce business of the company,” he said.

Lawrencedale Agro posted sales of about . 17 crore for financial year 2015, according ` to details obtained from documents filed with the Registrar of Companies. It wasn’t making a profit, the filings showed.

“Branded produce is still minuscule but wherever the producer is able to assure the customer of a consistent quality level and consistent availability -they have done well. The bigger challenge is that these tend to be pricier and hence limited to relatively niche segments,” said Mohit Khattar, head of retail strategy and branding for Godrej Industries.

India is the world’s second largest producer of fruit and vegetables after China, according to statistics compiled by the National Horticulture Board and disseminated through its annual report for 2015. India’s annual production of horticulture crops in 2015 was 149 million tonnes, according to the NHB report.

Though production is rising steadily, fresh produce suffers from wastage at various stages of the supply chain. “Losses incurred in the supply chain range from 5% to 20% depending upon the category.This is the big concern for the government as most of these losses are between farm to retail, and hence the big push for the food processing sector,” said Rajat Wahi, head of consumer markets at KPMG India.

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