Farm to home: Al Dahra hopes to disrupt Middle East’s online grocery market with fresh food offerings from Food Crowd

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Food Crowd was launched in the UAE in December 2020, and has gained over 2,000 active users. ©Food Crowd Facebook
Food Crowd was launched in the UAE in December 2020, and has gained over 2,000 active users. ©Food Crowd Facebook

Related tags Uae Middle east Online grocery

UAE-based agribusiness company Al Dahra wants to disrupt the region’s saturated online grocery market with its latest platform, Food Crowd, which will delivering fresh foods straight from the farm.

Consumers in UAE and the region have many grocery delivery options to choose from including Careem Shops​, InstaShop, El Grocer, and the UK’s Waitrose & Partners, offering a range of fresh produce, beverages, long shelf life foods and even dietary supplements.

However, Food Crowd hopes to stand out by being the first Emirati-owned fresh food delivery platform, tapping on Al Dahra’s expertise.

Al Dahra specialises in the cultivation, production and trading of commodities such as rice, flour, fruits and vegetables, as well as animal feed. The company owns vegetable, dairy and poultry farms in Al Ain (UAE), as well as around the world including US, Spain, Egypt, Serbia, and Africa.

Some of the products available on Food Crowd such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, and rice are stocked by Al Dahra, from its farms. Food Crowd also sells beverages (water), and snacks which are not manufactured by Al Dahra.

Ronald Muzambe, Food Crowd’s head of ecommerce, said: “We (Al Dahra) were supplying all these produce for our B2B business which was doing well.

“With COVID-19 and lockdowns, we saw a shift in more people shopping online for groceries. So, we decided why not offer this service to our end users.

“We launched a platform that was more than just a grocery delivery service, but was going to engage the community. We wanted to create a social platform where people can share recipes, video tutorials and get tips from experts on healthy living​.”

Food Crowd hopes its social element will help it stand out from other grocery delivery platforms.

In addition, Muzambe said other services did not offer the same fresh from farm concept: “We are in the agribusiness and we grow produce on our own farms, cutting the middleman, so we can guarantee freshness, and at the same time promote local farmers. We are the first in the region to do so​.”

Plans for the future

Food Crowd was launched in the UAE in December 2020, and has gained over 2,000 active users.

Growth is at a steady pace in the four months of operations, according to Muzambe.

It is mainly targeting a niche group of consumers “who place emphasis on value, quality, freshness, healthy eating and community awareness​.” Food Crowd will use reusable packaging and contactless delivery.

Because of its target group, he told us its fresh and organic products tend to do better on the platform, such as freshly squeezed juices and organic chicken.

We are seeing more sales on fresh and organic items, things like long shelf life products do not do as well​.”

Food Crowd currently only delivers within UAE from local farmers and other suppliers. It has a centralised warehouse located in Dubai for packing.

Muzambe said the company is looking to expand into Saudi Arabia and Egypt as part of its long-term strategy.

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