Before Freshket, Paniangwet started a processing center, which sources, cuts and trims fresh produce at wholesale fresh markets before delivering them to restaurants and other customers.
Freshket is among several startups in Southeast Asia markets focused on streamlining the food supply chain in different countries.
Paniangwet told TechCrunch she wanted to enter agritech because her family has worked in the agriculture business for 25 years. “I grew up learning a lot about what worked and didn’t work in the industry,” Paniangwet said. “Overall, the industry is tedious, messy and highly manual.
Freshket’s main rivals in the B2B space are traditional supply chain businesses; in the consumer space, it is up against include grocery delivery startups.
French-Singaporean food conglomerate Denis Asia Pacific and Thai family office Seedersclub, who made previous investments in Freshket, also returned for the Series A.
The startup was co-founded by chief executive Ponglada Paniangwet and chief marketing officer Tuangploi Chiwalaksanangkoon, who each worked in marketing before launching Freshket three years ago.
Freshket’s goal is to become “an enabler for the entire food supply chain,” she added.
It competes with delivery apps by offering lower retail prices, since Freshket is already tapped into a streamlined supply chain.
The company’s platform pull together Thailand’s fragmented produce supply chain by bringing together processing centers and suppliers, and connecting them directly with farmers, who usually rely on middlemen.
This is the third agritech investment Openspace Ventures, which focuses on early-stage companies in Southeast Asia, has made (the other are TaniHub and Singaporean grocery platform RedMart).
She realized technology could be used to simplify the supply chain, increasing farmers’ incomes and the quality of produce received by customers.
Freshket’s order, warehouse and logistics management systems are all linked together and “because of that, we are able to control the flow of goods, limit additional and labor costs and keep our overall cost base manageable,” she said.
Instead, Freshket tells its network, including farmers, how much product they will need to provide on a daily basis, so they can plan their supply chains.
According to an April 2019 Euromonitor International report, the food service market in Thailand is worth over $7. 7 billion in annual purchases, made by more than 200,000 restaurants (link in Thai).
Other participants included Thai private equity firm ECG-Research; Innospace; and Pamitra Wineka and Ivan Sustiawan, the co-founders of Indonesian agriculture technology startup TaniHub.
For B2B customers, Freshket’s selling points include more precise delivery, a wider variety of products and produce gradings.