The story of how FreshR’s founders FreshR discovered a niche in the unorganised and highly unregulated B2B meat and fish industry


Many have been discussed and written about the fact that the pandemic outbreak in 2020 proved to be a blessing in the form of direct-to-customer (D2C) meat delivery companies in India.

According to a study by the research group RedSeer, Indian shoppers increasingly decided to purchase meat on the internet “driven by the assurance of safety and hygiene, availability of various products under one umbrella, and doorstep service provided by online meat providers”.

When consumers were turning to online delivery of their meat business owners were not too long behind in recognizing the benefits of an organized market for meat. The first to realize this is Ambika Satapathy who was the co-founder and CEO of Delhi-based FreshR which is a B2B marketplace for meat and fish in India.

In a video chat in a chat with Economic pitch  she discusses the way FreshR intends to reinvent the sector that was previously unorganized by digitizing the value chain and creating an infrastructure to facilitate fulfillment while increasing the income of farmers and providing a seamless experience for buyers from B2B.

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FreshR was established through Ambika along with her husband Sadanand Satapathy. who was a former Ministry of Defence employee who was part of the team that was responsible for inspecting equipment for the defense forces.

“Ours is a farm-to-fork adventure that is to say. At the beginning, we established the poultry farm of our choice in Orissa and then realized how huge and unorganized that the food industry had become particularly post-production, supply chain and distribution. There was no innovation and many big companies were just trying to streamline that post harvest supply chain” Ambika recalls.

She claims that Sadanand’s involvement with the MoD provided him with exposure to the latest manufacturing techniques and helped in his desire to create an enterprise on his own.

In 2019, while out in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, Sadanand’s home town, the couple incorporated FreshR as a private limited company. They secured a pre-seed funding round from a group of impact investors as well as Bharat Petroleum’s start-up fund and then diversified their portfolio of products into chicken, fish, and mutton.

The areas of focus for the company are Orissa, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar as well as West Bengal.

“The idea was to acquire top-quality products from the source and then supply it to premium markets. These are areas of production which can yield top quality products at an affordable cost. We have distribution now in various cities in the eastern part of North India, and we are also establishing the processing and distribution center in Delhi-NCR.” Ambika says.

Finding order in chaos

According to the Economic Outlook 2021-22 the meat production in India has grown by 6.69 millions tonnes between 2014-15, to 8.80 million tonnes by the 2020-21 timeframe (provisional).

Despite their importance as a component of the agricultural system and hugely growing livestock producers and meat distributors across India are identified as being snobs to digital methods, preferring to use traditional sales networks and customers.

Companies such as FreshR could be able to be able to make a difference.

FreshR’s single-stop platform is a guarantee for its clients a pool of traders, wholesalers and distributors from the general trade sector, as well as the HORECA segment (hotels catering, restaurants as well as institutional purchasers) are no longer required to have to deal with several vendors selling Mutton, chicken, fish and various meat products.

“We’re able to supply superior quality products and add a layer of convenience and technology into the entire fulfilment system,” she states explaining that the application for B2B customers allows them to view the entire inventory and to place bulk orders, ensuring deliveries within the cities in which they’re active. This includes cities like Ranchi, Dhanbad, and portions of Orissa in addition to Delhi-NCR.

Beyond the supply issue of meat, the processing sector faces other issues. The processing of a perishable food item requires a higher amount of organisation and technology that Ambika states that FreshR is currently focusing on.

“We put our money into the supply chain and developed the technology to support it and have a system in place to manage it from end to the end. Thus, our wastages as well as rejections are lower than one percent, which is a record,” she adds, using the industry standard of 5 to 15 percent.

In the course of this year’s launch, FreshR also launched an application that standardizes grades and prices for the industry and permit bulk buyers from all over India to make purchases and monitor the quality of processes.

Fish market scale-up and much more

In June of this year, FreshR raised $1.2 million in a seed-round led by Axilor Ventures and 1crowd. FreshR plans to utilize the money to expand its geographic reach in the United States, further create and implement its tech stack, and expand the team to the current workforce of 60.

Despite the pandemic that is bringing new problems to India’s export markets for meat and seafood, FreshR also plans to launch its export business in the near future.

“Some items are readily accessible within India at a fair price , but they are not available in the international market. We’re looking for export of these. We’re also planning to import certain products that are in high demand in India that are also widely available throughout Southeast Asia,” the founder says.

Ambika who was who was a former Zomato employee who was responsible for the restaurant operations of the startup She also believes that FreshR’s primary rivalry isn’t from other startups within the industry but from incumbent players such as traders and distributors on ground.

“There are many incumbents, but I doubt they work in a scalable fashion,” she adds.

Ambika is optimistic FreshR is poised for rapid growth and hopes to reach the $50-million mark in its ARR by the end FY23 with the company having an EBITDA negative P&L. The company’s revenue in FY22 was 17.4 crore.

“I believe that our business is designed to scale, since it isn’t an overcrowded market with huge corporations and firms. We are also a technology-driven company and we are confident that we will be successful in each city we venture into. Another criterion to judge scaling is the volume. This is why we’re distinct from a B2C or consumer-facing businesssince our orders are in large quantities, which makes it simple to begin acquiring the volumes we need.”

Ambika discusses her journey as an entrepreneur in a male-dominated business, Ambika says, “It is like being an outlier. Entrepreneurs are familiar with being individuals who are different in the world. When you’re successful, everyone will think you’re crazy. When you’re successful, then it’s obvious that everything seems to be legitimate …”

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