Midstream-tech start-ups surge in China, meeting consumer demand for safe, speedy food supply

Lehe Food, China’s wannabe-Sysco, raised an impressive amount of capital in its Series C investment round – and it wasn’t the only midstream technology company to do so.

The Guangzhou-based start-up’s third funding round was co-led by new backer CDH Investments and existing investors Longzhu Capital, of on-demand app Meituan Dianping, and Guangzhou Hezhi Investment Management, reported AgFunder News in late May.

According to an article on Chinese website Sohu News, Lehe Food plans to use the funding to secure new partnerships, hire and nurture talent and boost innovation in areas such as cold-chain logistics.

The company launched in 2006, aiming to become China’s version of Sysco: a US-based operation that supplies products and equipment to restaurants, school and hospital caterers, and other food-service businesses.

Since then, it’s expanded into agribusiness and e-commerce and is on track to establish ‘a complete food supply chain system’ providing safe, healthy food ‘with conscience’ to China’s 1.4 billion-strong population and offering support right along the supply chain, from farm management and fresh-food processing to cold-chain logistics, retail distribution and tech consulting services.

Currently, the company claims to have 300 distribution centres across eastern and central China, and its impressive client list includes e-commerce juggernaut JD, China Southern Airlines, Jinan University, the People’s Bank of China, Carrefour and Walmart.

Midstream technology start-ups surge

Last year, Lehe Food raised a total of US$29 million across two rounds; both of which landed in the top 10 deals in the burgeoning ‘Midstream Technologies’ category, according to AgFunder’s China AgriFood Startup Investing Report 2019.

In terms of dollar funding, midstream technologies – those connecting farmers and food producers to ‘consumer-facing’ businesses – were China’s fourth-largest category last year, attracting total investments of US$336m across 39 deals and claiming a healthy 262 per cent year-on-year growth.

According to AgFunder, the rise in mid-supply-chain food businesses reflects the increasing importance of speedier, more transparent procurement options to restaurateurs and grocery-store owners across the PRC.

Source: China’s Sysco wannabe Lehe Food raises $56m in Series C round I AgFunder News