Currently, one of the most prominent German food delivery start-ups is, most probably, Gorillas. Founded in May 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic by Kağan Sümer, Gorillas does not only promise to deliver food within 10 minutes, but has also expanded rapidly. The latter makes sense considering that the global pandemic has witnessed an increasing demand for restaurant delivery in Germany (16%), Belgium (19%) and France (24%) and in other European countries. However, while users in Spain, Belgium, Portugal and The Netherlands are intending to keep using food delivery apps, only 39% of new users in Germany were certain in this regard. This article will explore the potential of startups in the food industry as well as in food and health tech in Germany.
Are You Hungry Yet?
Online Grocery Shopping
As consumers in Germany are getting more interested in vegan and biological food, the demand for online grocery shopping is rising. According to the prognosis of Statista, the latter is not only a trend, which is connected with the COVID-19 pandemic, but related to a more general dissatisfaction with shopping in ‘offline’ supermarkets. Certainly, companies such as Utry.me, which offer novel solutions to hungry customers, are tackling customers’ interests well. Founded by André Moll and Tobias Neuburger in 2017, Utry.me offers a free selection of products per ordered box. Rather than buying items at a fixed price, customers can fill their box until the bar is full.
Else than Utry.me, Hello Fresh is well-known for promoting innovation in the German food industry. Founded by Jessica Nilsson, Thomas Griesel and Dominik Richter in 2011, Hello Fresh delivers its customers a weekly meal kit with a recipe, whereby customers can choose the size of the box, the number of meals and their nutritional preferences (i.e. vegetarian, family friendly and time-saving). In other words, both Utry.me and Hello Fresh understand selling a box of food as a way to surprise customers and allow them to try something new.
In addition, both Hello Fresh and KoRo, which aspires to be Europe’s No. 1 supplier for non-perishable foods, count on promoting sustainable solutions with regard to their supply chains, food waste and packaging. In KoRo’s case the latter works by setting a weekly deadline on orders for a fresh box of fruit and vegetables. Meanwhile, Hello Fresh stores vegetables and fruit in its own facilities after obtaining them from contracted farmers, and disperses the boxes through its own delivery services.
Food and Farming 4.0
The start-up Infarm, which was founded by Guy Galonska, Erez Galonska and Osnat Michaeli in Berlin in 2013, has made headlines for securing huge sums of funding recently. With Infarm being a vertical farming company, the start-up has built up a network of urban farms and is growing food in proximity to customers in 10 countries and 30 cities worldwide. Harvesting more than 500,000 plants monthly, Infarm’s success relates both to its commitment to sustainability and environmental protection as well as to innovation. While IoT-powered vertical farming units need less space, less water, less transport and zero chemicals, Infarm has made sure that 90% of its electricity is derived from renewables.
Different from Infarm, the start-up urbanhive from Münster makes it possible for its customers to build up their own tiny indoor farm in their living room. Based on the same principle as Infarm, urbanhive seeks to contribute to the protection of the environment and public health. While their urban farm prototype might be a lovely add-on to any home, their model is also very promising, because it reduces unnecessary packaging and allows customers to enjoy microgreens free from pesticides as less water is being used and transport routes are cut. Lastly, whom would it not inspire to cook more healthy?
Food and Health Tech
While various start-ups aim to protect the environment as their primary goal or have specialized themselves in addressing public health indirectly, others target the latter more directly by offering personalized nutrition. One such start-up is dunatura. Founded by Tobias Steinbrecher in Augsburg in 2020, dunatura offers customers a free nutrient analysis based on which they receive nutritional recommendations to optimize their health and tackle existing issues. With the early-stage start-up both making a commitment to eco-friendly packaging and products free from harmful additives, stereates and artificial colouring, it might be interesting to watch the way the company has yet to go.
Meanwhile, the start-up Perfood has gained publicity as it received funding amounting to €385,000 by the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein. The latter funding was secured to develop further nutritional advice for women with hormonal diseases and, more precisely, those who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome, the most common reason for infertility in women. Whereas the latter project is yet to be developed, Perfood currently offers personalized nutritional advice for weight management and for reducing migraine. Specifically, because its medical advice is based on the analysis of a huge pool of data and AI, this start-up is not only tackling public health, it also shows its commitment to tech and innovation.
While drivers of restaurant delivery start-ups could probably be regarded as one of the few secret heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic, creating a huge revenue probably does not come without certain challenges. Even when it was emphasized earlier that Gorillas grew rapidly during the past year, it has currently been criticized for expecting that its logistics centres can, without a problem, be placed on public thoroughfares. Especially as a delivery start-up one might arguably have to avoid spatial problems.
While working towards the public good and customer friendliness is something which start-ups might aspire to do, a rapid expansion also demands the ability to predict and cope with challenges at different levels. However, the latter is not to criticize Gorillas’ ambitious project, nor to discourage start-ups who aim big. Instead food delivery start-ups should concern themselves with innovation in relation with food packaging, food waste, product development, local involvement etc., especially if they want to remain competitive and attractive. As such, they could even let themselves be inspired by the above-mentioned companies and start a cooperation with local businesses.
Whether you are an entrepreneur seeking to found a start-up or scale-up your business in the food, or in the food and health tech industries, we are definitely willing to support you with competent legal and business advice in the areas of intellectual property protection, tax, labour and employment, tech and migration. Indeed, we believe in your business idea, may you opt to bring innovation to the German market or may you seek to found a business in Africa. We got you covered and look forward to hearing from you! If you instead are an investor, we also gladly offer to connect you with aspiring entrepreneurs in these sectors with our network in Africa expanding to various different countries and jurisdictions.
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