Lifestyle

Connecting UAE farms to homes: This app lets you trace where your food is coming from

Connecting UAE farms to homes: This app lets you trace where your food is coming from

A digital marketplace that connects local farms directly to households and businesses, Dubai-based start-up FreshOnTable is uniquely promoting sustainability in the agricultural sector through its user-friendly app. UAE entrepreneur Atul Chopra launched the FreshOnTable app on iOS and Google devices last year to support food security in the UAE, as well as encourage healthy living and reduce carbon footprint by sourcing local, selling local and supporting local communities. With the coronavirus changing our perspectives towards metabolic health, UAE residents, especially the millennials, have become even more health conscious and eager to have more vegan and organic options on their table, which is now made easier through the app.

Working with UAE farms on a hyper-local model, Chopra says he locally sources fresh food, including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry, fish and other seafood, and delivers them within 24 hours to consumers. FreshOnTable also delivers local artisanal food-based products such as honey, coffee, tea, gluten-free baked goods, chocolates and dates, and gluten-free and vegan options as well.

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Sourcing food locally helps maintain the integrity of the ingredients, says Atul Chopra, founder and MD of FreshOnTable Image Credit: Supplied

No cold chains

With low food miles, which means low CO2 emissions, the start-up skips the cold chain process, ensuring food is always fresh and tastes great. Unlike most fruits and vegetables in groceries and supermarkets, FreshOnTable’s food products do not have waxes or preservatives. “Our veggies don’t travel long distances, which helps our environment and ultimately our planet,” says Chopra. “We like to maintain the integrity of the ingredients we are sourcing to ensure a flavourful experience when cooking or for any food business.”

One-stop shop

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The app makes it easier for consumers to trace where each product comes from Image Credit: Supplied

Customers especially like the wide variety offered by FreshOnTable, which makes it easier to plan nutritious meals. There are also special features for businesses, including bulk orders, while local farmers can list and manage their products on the app. “Our platform easily meets all fresh food needs of our customers, and all food choices are from local sources. We aim to meet the price point and freshness quotient, while staying true to our sustainability objectives,” says Chopra. “We are also the only pure marketplace solution directly connecting farmers and buyers. Although there are brands offering fresh food delivery, our platform offers traceability through the ability to see where each product comes from. Moreover, we offer much more local variety at competitive prices. As a result, our product is superior for both consumers and businesses.”

Chopra also explains that each order from FreshOnTable is packaged carefully and beautifully in bespoke white boxes featuring the company’s signature vectors and the stories of its local chef partners. “We adhere to strict hygienic and safety practices to ensure your delivery is made with your health and well-being as a top priority,” says Chopra.

As it builds a resilient network of farmers and consumers, the start-up aims to ultimately create a sustainability loop in the UAE food economy to ensure the process of sourcing local food is smooth, simple, accessible, traceable and profitable to both sellers and buyers.

Perfectly imperfect produce

You will soon be able to explore the new ‘imperfect vegetable’ category on the FreshOnTable app. The organic veggies maintain their nutritional content, flavour and are a great value. This initiative is in line with our mission to eliminate food waste and to support sustainable living.

How it all began

FreshOnTable came about as a solution for a problem faced by a chef in Montmartre, Paris. With the hectic daily operations, the chef could only place orders with suppliers in the evening, when the chef is greeted with a voicemail that provides little certainty for the order. But with no visibility on inventory or traceability, the chef was left without any reassurance. So with an abundance of local farms around Paris, FreshOnTable offered to directly connect local farms to local businesses through a simplified mobile app. FreshOnTable then made its way to the US through an invitation by the local senator in PG county in the state of Maryland to showcase how the platform could help local farmers gain accessibility and reach households directly, eliminating the middle man and making fresh produce more affordable.