To Expand Access To Nutrition, Consider Frozen Foods
A startup called Lean Green – which aims to sell ready-to-cook frozen vegetables in India’s National Capital Region (NCR) – is being led by women in an effort to make India’s currently lopsided farm-to-fork chain a more level playing field. But equally importantly, the startup’s impending birth also points to the under-utilisation of the potential of frozen foods in India to improve access to good nutrition.
Founders Priya Kumar and Aditi Rathore have assigned all key roles in their enterprise to women, and in all, 70% of their employees are women. In addition, Lean Green also pays its farmer-suppliers double the market price, at a time when farmers have been protesting to have the government maintain a minimum sale price. It plans to sell chopped okra, cauliflower, broccoli, garlic, corn and peas grown by around a dozen women farmers near Bagru, Rajasthan. The vegetables are sourced, quality-tested, then chopped, peeled, graded, blanched, frozen, packaged and transported, and later stocked in cold-storage facilities in Delhi.
Kumar and Rathore say they had the idea to launch Lean Green when they saw millennial households in urban India struggle to prepare home-cooked meals during the pandemic, with neither domestic workers nor food-delivery companies for help. And according to them, a market survey they conducted found that 95% of those responsible for preparing cooked meals in households were women.