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How this Agri-tech Startup Revamping the Agriculture Sector?

Karthik-JayaramanWayCool Foods & Products founded in July 2015 with the agenda to build the world’s largest food development and distribution services company which impact the lives of 500,000 farmers. With this goal, WayCool’s operation has spread across product sourcing, food processing, branding and marketing, last mile distribution, and farm inputs. During an email interaction with Nitisha from BISinfotech; Karthik Jayaraman, Co-Founder and CEO, WayCool Foods and Products Pvt Ltd talks about WayCool’s special services and its impact in agriculture sector.

Kindly explain WayCool and its special offerings.

WayCool Foods is India’s largest and fastest growing agri-commerce company. Focusing on food development and distribution, the company leverages innovative technology to scale and operate a complex supply chain from soil to sale. Through its farmer engagement program – Outgrow, WayCool works with 85000+ farmers.

Implementing deep tech and automation has enabled WayCool to successfully create a world class, sustainable supply chain. This supply chain also helps in ensuring the timely and predictable delivery of fresh and hygienic food products to their client base of retail outlets, hotels and restaurants across Southern and Western India, and the Middle East. .

WayCool operates a full stack, broadline product range across multiple channels and categories such as fresh produce, staples, and dairy, serving over ~100,000 clients in the general trade, modern trade, and food services space. Waycool’s consumer brands basket include Madhuram, Kitchenji, L’exotique and Freshey’s, to name a few.

How do you differentiate WayCool with other Agri-tech companies?

Our vision is to be the most efficient, impactful, and sustainable agri-commerce company in India. This is a journey that has few parallels in India, as the food and agriculture space has been a relatively fragmented and unorganized industry. While there are many players that provide services or solutions to sectors of the Indian food supply chain, WayCool is one of the few players if not the only one that looks in the entire gambit of the food supply chain from soil to sale.

Owing to the deep understanding of technology and know-how on how to smoothly operate strong supply chain ecosystem the company aims to reimagine the food supply chain for the entire country. WayCool has built one of the world’s most comprehensive and seamless technology stacks for this supply chain, that is capable of capturing and managing information from seed to sale. This stack enables it to plan better, thus making the supply chain more efficient as well as responsive. This is the company’s primary differentiation.

Further, the company is also building low cost automation in all its collection, processing and distribution centres, in order to make these efficient, scalable and error-free. The automation is largely developed in-house and seamlessly integrated into its tech stack.

Thirdly, the company does not limit itself to just procuring from the producers such as small-hold farmers, but actively engages with them to improve their crop planning, as well as production, through “Outgrow”, its agricultural extension program. This ensures sustainable long term benefits for its partners, rather than opportunistic transnational gains.

Lastly, the company’s tech stack has ensured that it has the most comprehensive data on consumer behaviour and how they link back all the way to agricultural practice.

Lastly, WayCool firmly believes that that technologies that bring the food supply chain closer to #netzero also make the supply chain more cost efficient. The company is driving specific projects in this area, including alternative energy sources, food miles reduction and moving towards net zero water consumption.

How WayCool is leveraging technology and transforming the food economy.

WayCool is on the cutting edge of technology in the agricultural space in the country. The company aims to revolutionize the food economy through deep data-driven research and state of the art technologies. Our environmentally conscious processes and technologies are rooted in zero wastage, and carbon neutrality.

We aim at leveraging innovative tech solutions to reduce operating cost and bring in farm fresh produce to urban India in the fastest and most efficient manner. RAPID is an intelligent automation system deployed across our network of collection centers and warehouses. This cloud-based system integrates planning, procurement management, tracking and delivery. It seamlessly integrates as well as controls a network of IoT enabled sensing and material handling systems.

The benefits of this system include high velocity, near-zero touch handling of food products, with minimal errors, lowered human effort and very tight control of stock and surplus, which is critical for efficiency and scalability in agri-commerce

WayCool has built a multidimensional full stack tech platform for India’s Agri commerce covering –

  • Farmer Engagement: Crop planning and advisory, Auction platform and inputs market place
  • Processing and Warehouse automation: Forecasting and planning, Warehouse management system and Digital Quality platform
  • Distribution management: Logistics automation, Partner financing, Sales force automation, and delivery and collection management
  • Customer-facing applications such as order capture, tracking and financing.

These apps ensure that the information flow is streamlined in both directions and provide the base data for advanced analytics that will help streamline the process further.

We recently announced an aggressive growth plan entailing over $100 million investment in technology, product development, facility expansion and new company acquisitions over the next four years.

Implementing innovative Indigenous firsts in automation/technology to achieve business & social goals.

The technology platform of WayCool is the backbone of the company’s future growth plans. We have heavily invested in automation and use best-in-class analytic tools to reduce wastage as well as improve transportation efficiencies between cities. We focused on farmer security and started paving a way to transform the nature of the food supply chain. We understood the market complexities and followed a culture of frugal innovations and individual accountability.

We have heavily automated our warehouses. A line of robotic arms, conveyor belts and computerised sorting of produce is the standout feature at one of our key warehouses in Chennai. The automation has seeped into our daily operations and interactions with stores as well. Robots are processing all our orders and this has led to an increase in efficiency.

Most of the critical automations used at WayCool are World First and are designed for India by an Inhouse team of engineers. WayCool owns IPR for these equipment (such as the onion grading and packing machine, Garlic peeling machines), which are industry first and have been developed at a fraction of the cost estimated by leading engineering companies

Kindly highlight seamless tech support and better RoI through innovative solutions.

At WayCool, we are constantly working on emerging technology that will help drive efficiency and reduce wastage in food supply chains. Seamless tech support for better RoI through innovative solutions reduces wastage, enhances efficiency, leading to efficient working capital and product management. WayCool’s Sustainable and innovative technology methods ensure optimal fill rate, best quality produce for customers and manage demand vs supply well. Also, ensures less inventory.

WayCool also extensively uses technology for shelf-life extension of products. We have invested significant capital in industry-academia partnerships to develop a range of technologies such as coatings, modified atmosphere packaging solutions, rot and damage detection technology, optimal technology for enhancing the shelf life of select fruits and vegetables, technology for cultivation and post-harvest management of agri-produce and the next generation of non-invasive testing technology for fresh produce.

How technology drives (including digitization and analytics) enhancing efficiency across ecosystems?

Efficiency along the supply chain and innovative analytics engine assists in analyzing and extracting information of demand. WayCool using technology intelligently connects farmers to consumers with minimum wastage, better returns and helps meet the demand. Efficiency impacts quality and right supply – a good analytical engine can forecast region wise demand for various produce and staples that enables WayCoool and farmers to ensure that the required regional specification is met. Also provide technology to farmers with best solutions on products based on Historic, predictive (forecasting) and prescriptive (recommended) analytics.

We are transforming the food economy in a sustainable way by adopting innovations & automation, enhancing efficiency & moving towards net zero resulting in reduced waste, reduced CO2, reducing food miles.

Kindly explain implementation of AI and ML to build effective & customized supply chain infrastructure.

The majority of AI and ML tools we use focus on grading and optical screening to maintain quality standards and demand forecasting and supply planning to ensure that the customer requirements are fulfilled as well as reduce food wastage and overall production costs. The company also invests in price forecasting, with IT tools that analyse weather patterns, local market supplies, price trends, etc. Many of our projects involve using data captured through the entire supply chain to drive decision-making. In addition to this, WayCool uses analytics for running optimisations in transportation and network management.

WayCool is planning to build future solutions that would be more scalable, and yet, flexible enough to be adapted to each commodity and geography. We foresee our role of being an orchestrator of the supply chain and therefore be a game changer.

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Nitisha Dubey

I am a Journalist with a post graduate degree in Journalism & Mass Communication. I love reading non-fiction books, exploring different destinations and varieties of cuisines. Biographies and historical movies are few favourites.

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