Japanese Farm-to-Table Platform Secai Marche Bags $1.5 Million

Farm to Table

Farm-to-table platform Secai Marche, a Japanese startup, has hooked about $1.5 million in venture funding from Japan’s Rakuten Capital and Beyond Next Ventures.

Secai Marche will use the investment cash to expand its fulfillment services, logistics and inventory, Co-founder and CEO Ami Sugiyama told e27, a media company that focuses on Asian tech startups. Also in the plan is to increase hiring along with sales and marketing.

Last October, Secai raised about $1 million from Beyond Next, Monex Ventures and some unnamed angel investors, e27 reported. However, the pandemic put a crimp in the company’s plans.

Now, said Sugiyama, “We want to expand rapidly to counties in Southeast Asia. But we need to see how the COVID-19 situation improves before going ahead with the plans.”

Founded in 2018 by Sugiyama and Shusaku Hayakawa, Secai Marche’s website says it offers high-quality products at competitive prices directly from farmers. The company’s platform links farmers to chefs, restaurants and consumers. The company’s facilities, located in Tokyo and Malaysia, get products from Japan and Southeast Asia. “Our mission is to help build more economically viable, sustainable small-scale farms all over the world,” according to the website. Ultimately, this means improving consumers’ access to good and delicious foods.

Sugiyama said that Secai is “one of the fastest-growing online grocery platforms in Southeast Asia,” adding that “customers are satisfied with our product quality, variety and … fulfillment services — from [the] collection of items at farms, sorting, packing, quality management and last-mile delivery.”

The pandemic has boosted interest in online grocery sales, farmers’ markets and the small farms that supply them. For example, in New York City, there has been a spike in demand for farmers’ markets. “I’m not going into the supermarket, around people,” said Brooklynite Sioux Nesi, telling The New York Times that an enclosed grocery store felt risky.