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Digitized transportation and low-cost cold chain system for fruits market

"Fruits low cost supply chain in India1"

Superplum, a fully digitised farm-to-store supply chain start-up, has introduced unique low-cost cold chain systems as well as transport systems for marketing fruits in India.

According to Shobhit Gupta, Founder, and CEO of Superplum, the Noida-based company developed these systems to meet the needs of a proper cold chain from growing centres to consumer centres. ‘Right from the growers, there is a lack of a proper cold chain.

Consumers have no information about the produce they eat, including its quality. Farmers, like everyone else, are unaware of the demand for their products. Superplum was created specifically to bridge these gaps,’ Gupta explained.

Feature of a cold room

One of the characteristics of the start-up, which has begun marketing fruits such as mangoes, cherries, plums, pears, and peaches in Delhi and Bengaluru, is its ability to quickly assemble and dismantle cold rooms.

‘We have established such cold rooms in six states, including Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh,’ the Superplum founder explained, As part of its attempts to improve infrastructure, the company has created clusters.

Temperatures in cold rooms are controlled, which reduces post-harvest waste and increases demand for the produce.

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Saving money

‘It also cost-effective on the installation of expensive cold rooms in growing facilities. ‘Ours is a modular system that can be set up and taken down over the course of a fruit season, say six months,’ he explained.

At least 25 fruits, including 7-8 varieties of mangoes, cherries, plums, peaches, and pears, have been stored in the cold rooms. ‘One advantage of our cold rooms is that they are less expensive than conservative ones,’ he explained.

Fresherator, an innovative low-cost cold chain transport solution launched by Superplum, is the company’s other system. It is a ‘sophisticated solution’ for converting any truck into a refrigerated vehicle. ‘We have created refrigerated container vehicles that are 24 feet long. This helps to alleviate India’s acute shortage of refrigerated transportation,’ Gupta explained.

Inadequate farm infrastructure

Superplum was founded last year after seed funding was raised in 2019. “The food and agriculture industries are underserved. The government spends a lot of money on these sectors, but it’s probably inefficiently.

According to Gupta, ‘our research revealed that farm-level infrastructure was scarce and that there was no proper supply chain.’

With this in mind, Superplum developed technology and farm-level contacts in 8-9 months before launching operations last year, according to the company’s founder.

Silicon Valley investors have included Dan Rose, Chairman of Coatue Ventures, Mark Siegel of Menlo Ventures, Binny Bansal, former Co-Founder of Flipkart, Steve Jurvetson, Founder of Future Ventures, and Kabir Misra of RPS Venture and Softbank.

To get the company off the ground, the start-up recently raised $3.8 million (28.28 crore) in pre-series A funding. Since its inception, the company has received a total of $6.8 million (50.61 crore) in funding. ‘The new capital will be utilized to develop farm infrastructure, augment the team, and expand the company’s distribution capabilities,’ Gupta explained.

Platform for technology

Another unique thing about Superplum’s functionality is a comprehensive technology platform, FreshManager, that ensures every fruit can be traced back to the farm. ‘Consumers can also examine lab test results and product parameters. FreshManager is specifically designed for Indian conditions and small farms,’ Gupta told.

He stated that Superplum would build the country’s most sophisticated fresh produce supply chain, and that the software system has been created to manage quality, traceability, scan QR codes, record temperatures, including those of transportation, and include results of pesticide residue tests.

He further explained that the start-work up’s a process, saying Superplum worked with farmers across the country to ensure product quality from the beginning.

Also Read: Many of the foods we thought were vegetables are actually fruits

Obtaining high-quality produce

‘The company is combining multiple skill sets, including modern software, IoT technology, agriculture technology, and cold chain technology, to provide a ground-up solution that works for both farmers and consumers. We also ensure fruit quality at the source,’ he added.

Superplum’s innovative custom-designed temperature and humidity-controlled supply chain transports all produce from farms to retail stores. According to him, fruits are also lab-tested for pesticides and chemicals.

Despite the Covid shutdowns, it has delivered over 1,000 tonnes of fresh produce to date. Superplum has worked with farmers in 15 states and plans to expand its reach. ‘We assist farmers during harvest and guide them through the fruiting process,’ Gupta said, adding that Superplum will expand to Mumbai next month.

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