In a bid to power up their omnichannel food retail operations, US retail giant Walmart and its Indian ecommerce arm Flipkart have made a joint investment in 63Ideas Infolabs-owned Ninjacart, a B2B marketplace for agricultural produce that connects farmers and retailers.
The financial details of the deal were not disclosed. However, the transaction is expected to close by the end of this month.
The investment in the Bengaluru-based agritech startup comes in the wake of Flipkart’s recent foray into the online food retail business which already has established players such as Grofers, BigBasket and Amazon. In October the Walmart-owned company floated Flipkart Farmermart to deepen its penetration in food retail and run a farm-to-fork operation.
Through the arrangement, Walmart will strengthen its direct sourcing of fresh produce for its best price B2B cash-and-carry stores while Flipkart will improve its online grocery business Supermart, said a joint statement from the three companies.
“Developing Flipkart Supermart, we have focused on creating the right infrastructure, supporting local farmers, producers and food processors, and building sustainability into the ecosystem. In Ninjacart, we see a company that shares our values, our pioneering mindset and our commitment to tech-driven innovation,” Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO, Flipkart Group, said.
“We are working towards our commitment of sourcing 25% of produce in our Best Price cash-and-carry stores directly from farmers by 2023. This would help accelerate market access for them and reduce transportation costs,” Krish Iyer, president and CEO, Walmart India, said.
The investment will also enable Ninjacart to expand its customer base, reach new cities and gain exposure to global best practices to enhance the efficiency of the local fresh produce ecosystem.
Founded in 2015, Ninjacart provides online supply chain infrastructure between farmers to retailers and restaurants through a network of over 200 collection centers and 1,200 warehouses across seven cities.
The company claims that it transports over 1,400 tonnes of agricultural produce in a day between 44,000 farmers suppliers and its 60,000 customers which include retailers and restaurants. Ninjacart also claims to have reduced food wastage to less than 1%, compared to 35% in traditional supply chains.
Ninjacart, which originally started as a grocery delivery business, was founded by Thirukumaran Nagrajan, Vasudevan Chinnathambi, Kartheeswaran KK, Sharath Loganathan, Ashutosh Vikram, and Sachin PJ.
“We are excited that Flipkart and Walmart are joining us to make this vision a reality and showing confidence in our technology and business model. With their support, we see new possibilities to improve the lives of our farmers, retailers and restaurant partners,” said Nagarajan, CEO and co-founder of Ninjacart.
As of June 2019, Ninjacart has raised $150 million and counts New York headquartered alternative assets investment firm Tiger Global Management, venture capital firm Accel, Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani’s NRJN Trust, and Qualcomm Ventures among its investors. It competes with players such as Jumbotail and Udaan.