Farm-to-retail company Wingreens Farms is on an acquisition spree. After acquiring cold-pressed juice brand RAW Pressery earlier this year, the company is now eyeing more acquisitions in the food and beverages segment, Anju Srivastava, Founder and CEO, Wingreens Farms, told Moneycontrol in an exclusive interaction.
The company, known for its range of dips and spreads, is looking for companies that offer fresh and ethically-produced products to the consumer, ideally, companies with an annual revenue of Rs 100 crore.
“Size is not the criteria, but the qualities of the brands are important. The brand must have new-age attributes such as offering convenience and fresh products to consumers,” said Srivastava.
Wingreens Farms, Srivastava said, is also looking to raise another round of funding from its existing investor Sequoia and others in the next two-three months. Some of the funds raised will be used for acquisitions.
The company, in its last funding round in 2019, had raised Rs 125 crore in a Series B led by responsAbility Investments AG and Sequoia India. It had raised seed funding of Rs 15 crore from Sequoia India in 2015 and then an undisclosed sum later in series A from the same investor.
“We are doing a bridge round currently and then later another large round in the next two-three months,” said Srivastava.
From pestos to pitas
Anju Srivastava and her husband Arjun Srivastava founded Wingreens Farms in 2009. The roots of the company were sown after the couple returned to India (to Gurgaon) from the US in 2006 after a stint in advertising. They were looking for ways to do their bit for the farmers of the country.
“We wanted to address the imbalance that existed in the agricultural industry. Why is it that farmers who have some amount of wealth in land have almost no liquidity,” said Srivastava.
The problem intrigued the couple and they decided to find a solution. They started by launching a farming company and growing herbs, vegetables and salad greens on a patch of land and selling the produce. The couple rented a patch of land from farmers and paid them wages to look after the farm.
“Our premise was: sone ke bhav zameen to sona ugayenge,” recounts Srivastava. (Translation: If land has the same value as gold then we will be growing gold.)
The couple even experimented with flowers for a while.
For the next five years, the company continued farming and experimented with different types of crops and produce and tried to figure out areas where they could market them. The Srivastavas identified potted herbs as one of the areas with potential and started selling them in supermarkets and shopping malls.
“We realised that while you can grow crops of good value, it does not necessarily mean that you will be able to market them at a good value. The market for herbs then in India was also very small,” said Srivastava.
The company also tried its hand in the export market but faced another set of issues, which made the couple give up the idea. Wingreens Farms tasted initial success with its next experiment, where it started making pesto from the basil produced on its farm. In those initial days, Srivastava would make pesto from fresh basil at the Spencer’s Store in Gurgaon and sell it to the customers.
Thus began Wingreens Farms’ journey to offer ethically sourced dips to consumers. But given the limited scalability of dips due to cold chain constraints, the company ventured into making sauces. It reached out to rural women from low-income households and asked them to come on board to produce its products at a central kitchen.
“Women’s empowerment is an agenda for us and WIN in Wingreens Farms stands for Women’s Initiative Network. We still have those women with us,” said Srivastava.
Subsequently, the company diversified its product mix further, launching pita chips after acquiring a company that made the product in India. As Wingreens Farms expanded its operations to Mumbai in 2015, Sequoia India noticed it and offered funding.
The taste of success
The Srivastava couple and Wingreens Farms have come a long way from the days when they would sell basil pesto sauce made from scratch. The company currently operates a production facility spread across 80,000 square foot in Gurgaon with three units producing dips, sauces and pita chips. According to Srivastava, the facility has the capacity to manufacture Rs 12-13 crore of stock per month.
“In 2016, our annual recurring revenue stood at Rs 6-7 crore and now we are clocking an ARR of Rs 200 crore and most probably will be closing this year at Rs 300 crore,” said Srivastava.
The company has a presence across 200 cities in India and draws about 75 percent of its revenue from the offline channel, while online contributes the rest.
Wingreens Farms has set ambitious goals for itself as it tries to become a one-stop destination for healthy food and beverage products in India. The company’s growth in recent years has been fuelled by growing consumer consciousness towards eating healthy, especially in the wake of the Covid pandemic.
Additionally, growth in the dips, spreads and sauces category overall has also helped the company. The dips and spread market in India is worth about Rs 3,500 crore and this is expected to almost double by 2026. After ketchup, which commands 60 percent of the market, mayonnaise has a 20 percent share and all other products have a 20 percent share, according to data from Praxis Global Alliance, a management consulting and advisory services firm.